Mary Beth Writes

1. We either squandered $60 this year or saved $30 today – depends on how you look at it. (Ahhh, the prism of life metaphor…)

Len’s lost his job last spring but soon enough he found his next job (he’s a serial worker); he now works mostly from home.

Guess who should have called the insurance company two days after he lost that job? Argh. We’ve been paying car insurance on the basis of a daily 40-mile round-trip commute he doesn’t make.

I called our insurance company; our rate will now decrease $90/year prorated to the amount of time left on this year’s premium. If we had called last spring, we would have saved more.

Here’s your reminder. If the amount you drive changes – call your insurance company. Especially if the mileage goes down.

Did you know that if you stop driving a vehicle for an extended period of time you can temporarily stop insurance on that car or truck?  For instance; if someone is going to take a driving hiatus to recoup from a surgery, or travel for an extended trip, or take care of a relative in another state; you might want to talk to your car insurance company.

We DID call as our teenagers went off to college.  We’d put them back on if they came home for the summer to work. Taking teen drivers off the family insurance bill was such a significant savings that we never forgot. Back then.

2. This was an interesting number to figure out.

We save all our receipts - from sixty-cent drive-through ice cream cones (what? You don’t do that?) to the receipt for root canal surgery (steep, that one.) At the beginning of each month I put the receipts in piles of Food, Gas, and Random. Next I add them up; check them against our credit card to make sure nothing seems too mysterious (which is how twice in the past two years we found small charges that were not ours. Someone was prepping to use our credit for bigger and worse things, I guess.) This sounds hard and tedious. It isn’t. Probably about one hour per month. I put the totals into an excel spreadsheet; over time we can see what we are REALLY spending instead of what we think we are spending. I love fiction, but truth is better in home-budgeting.

This past month, as usual, I figured out what we spent at the grocery store and at restaurants. Took this number, divided by two (because there are 2 of us, duh); divided that by 30 – for “30 days hath November”. Now I know what I spent per day to feed my face. This total changes from month to month and it’s an interesting number to contemplate as you consider your place on Planet Earth.

I advise you try it if you don’t already do so. January and February are often less intense months; a good time to see what you actually spend. This is not about chastising yourself; this is about knowing yourself. Which is, as you know … the beginning of wisdom…

http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats   Per this article, it costs about $2.50/day to adequately feed one person on earth. I know many thrifty-frugal families spend less, but generally they have resources poor people dont have. Such as stable homes, working kitchens, freezers, gardens, smart phones to check store apps, and cars with which to shop the best sales. It can cost a lot to maintain a family that is poor in those kinds of resources. 

 

3.  If you are a person who received a lot of hand-me-downs as your family’s matriarchs passed away, you will understand why I include this under Frugal Chickens. I know I’ve written about it before, but this stuff has loomed in my life for years.

My mother received family treasures from her mother and also from my dad’s family. Mom didn’t get everything, but as the oldest daughter, she did get a bunch. She lived in an 800-square foot house with TWO tidy, dusted, nicely-arranged china cabinets - even though her favorite thing on earth after a long day at work was to read. When she passed away much of that came to me.  I was grateful to aunts and cousins who took some of it back then, but it was a confusing time and I have sensible relatives; most didn’t want a lot of lovely dust-catchers. Very little of it was monetarily valuable, all of it had been cherished.

Some other place and time I will write about how I off-loaded most of it. I didn’t sell or donate any of it away out of respect for the women in my family who obtained and used these pretty old things.  

In the past two months I made connections to two more women in my family who love antiques. (One was a kid when mom passed, now she’s an adult woman with a home of her own!) These are not relatives I see often. Each woman was happy to take the hand-made tablecloths, some old photos, a few silver spoons, an afghan and a broken violin!

Minimalism says – get that detritus out of my house.

Frugality says “Your grandma crocheted that entire 84-inch square tablecloth. It is two different hues of cream because materials were hard to come by during WWII. Grandma had two sons in the war and I bet she needed something to do in the evenings while she tried to pray and not worry.”

Like I’m going to drop that off at Goodwill?

Now Laura’s other granddaughter (who lives hundreds of miles from me in a Victorian home she is slowly decorating for herself) has that tablecloth, and some other items. Good.

I opened the placemat drawer the other day. Not crowded. 

Comments

My credit cards have an option to set up an alert (email or text as one prefers) so I get a message every time my cards are used and where, If it was not my charge, I would know almost instantly and could take steps to investigate with the card issuer.

I never heard of this.. but what a good option. Thank you!

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Franc's Extravagantly Frugal Garden

I have some great pictures!  Please click "Read More," then click on the pdf icon to open the story and photos of Franc's front yard. 

Mindful Chickens- Xpensive Milk & Cheap Capri's 7/11/2018

Mindful Chickens are (for people who don’t know why I call them this) about TWO things.

  1. Being Cheap (cheep, cheep).
  2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

ONE – I’ve mentioned this before but in light of the news that Walmart is squeezing out MORE American dairy farmers, I am going to say it again.

What's in Vanilla?

I just read a flurry of emails on a frugal website about the rising cost of vanilla and how people are working around that while continuing to live their frugal lives.

Not one of the letters asked these logical questions.

Why has the price of vanilla risen so steeply?

What is happening to the people who grow and process it? 

"One must have sunshine..." Living Life Forward

This is another interview with a person who lives frugally and thoughtfully by design and by default. 

Thanks, Helle.

.....

How I met Helle Koustrup Berry tells you a lot about how she arranges her life.

Mindful Chickens a Month Later

(I just like the bison joke...) 

It’s been a while since I wrote a Mindful Chicken. 

Mindful Chickens are (for people who don’t know why I call them this) about TWO things.

  1. Being Cheap (cheep, cheep).
  2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

___________

ONE – I donated blood. Why is this frugal? A tech checks your blood pressure and temperature. They prick your finger to test for hemoglobin (iron) levels are normal or low.

Looking for Sincere and Heartfelt Tales

A while back I posted an article about my friend Franc; I talked about how he has created a good life for himself even though he has rarely earned more than $15,000 in a year. (Right here)

This article was satisfying to write. I enjoyed spending time with Franc and asking nosy questions. Yes, it’s a challenge to interview folks and then write about their lives, but I did this often in my 12 years as a newspaper columnist and I like the adventure of it.

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