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.
Mary Beth's picture

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

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Frugality Hacks or how I saved $64,000,000, so far.

I read the ‘frugal things I did’ letters in other people’s huge and interesting frugality blogs. I figured I could list some of the ways I saved some money this week (this life). I’m pleased to say I saved about 64 Million.

Quarantine Diary #645 - Granola

Two recent tweets : Someone named Kate Harding tweeted; “What haunts me is that I am not just smart enough for so many people to be this much stupider than me.”

And from Di, Obstinate Hoper; “I’m starting to think of pandemic caution like labor: buckle down during peaks, relax a little between them. Hang in there, folks. It’s a damn long labor.”

Frugal? Road Trip to New Mexico

If our finances were stretched we wouldn’t have gone to New Mexico. We are doing fine despite the advice that says one ought to retire with a million dollars in the bank. Imagine that.

1. We and, at this point, about half the nation, have had our Covid vaccines so we felt safe and ready to see something new. However, we traveled to a place where they had worked WITH the effort to fight this pandemic. This limited our choices and is the #1 reason we didn’t go to the Badlands. How we spend $ is our power.

The Mindful Chickens are Wordy Today

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

  • Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).
  • Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.
  • Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

This is my collection of wise choices and dastardly schemes from the last two months.

ONE: Our electric toothbrush/water pick would no longer hold a charge but a new one costs more than $100. Len took it to the battery store where they replaced it for $15.

Mindful Chickens - Plastic & Hunger 12/20/2020

I went for a walk on Wednesday and saw this mitten on a sidewalk. When I was at the same spot on Friday, it was still there, so I brought it home because it is a hand-knitted kid mitten, ya know? Any knitters out there interested in making it a mate, so that we could give it to a kid in my community or your? It's 7" from top to ribbed bottom. 

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The point of “Mindful Chickens” is to spend less money while being mindful of the environment and our human values. We can try, right?

Holy Mackerel! Mindful Chickens 12/12/2020

Yamiche and Weijia licking out the mackerel bowl this morning.

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I said I would write “mindful things” we did this week. The agenda of “Mindful Chickens” is to spend less money plus be mindful of the environment and our other values at the same time. Sometimes, one of those purposes wins over the other, but we can think before we spend, right?

1. I cut my hair. This is not a particular skill of mine, but I can do it well enough to not look like the Pittsburgh Paint Dutch boy.

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