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Apparently, We Owe America an Apology

One of the things I love about January is all of the articles that focus on organization and stretching a dollar; you can count on it. Never mind that the same magazines have been cranking out different versions of this same info all year long, and the year before that. I still feel like I’m really going to get on track with the help of January’s magazines.

One mag had a very good “spend less” section, but some of the cost-cutting swaps left me a little cold. [Yes, mostly because they were oh-so-familiar, and we’d already put them into practice, but still.] Basically, you could save thousands of dollars per year if you only eat dinner out twice a month, color your hair at home, brown bag it thrice weekly, cut your latte consumption to two per week, only get a monthly pedicure, crank the thermostat down to 68, and replace a couple of bulbs with compact fluorescents.

OK, granted: some of these are not as much of an issue since I stay at home. Our team did head to the tunnels for Starbucks pretty much every morning when I worked downtown, and now I may only drive through once or twice a month. Aside from that, the worker bee in this operation brings his lunch almost daily, and we haven’t turned the heat up over 68 since we moved in two years ago. I’ve only had one pedicure post-partum, and believe me, the little tiger-stripes I call “highlighting” were definitely applied by my own hand.

There was one more tip: Stop buying one new book a month and use the library instead. I skipped over it this time only because I did the same thing when I was sharing this article with Kevin. Oddly enough, he was quick to point out my oversight. Hey, I don’t buy a new book every month, OK? Sure, I buy them three at a time every couple of months, but still. Yeah, it’s a flimsy and ridiculous argument. I went and got a library card yesterday. See? I’m can be reasonable even when confronted by an ugly truth.

The other thing we’re going to try is cutting our cable service to the bare-bones minimum (because you would be hard-pressed to get a single channel out here in the woods) and supplementing it with a NetFlix account, which still winds up cutting our bill down by at least 30%. Kevin called to make the switch on Tuesday. Yesterday morning, the financial news was on and I heard that fears of recession are being fueled by reports by phone and cable companies, because when people are cutting back on these services, the economy must be weakening. Oh, and Starbucks is re-structuring and scaling back on development.

Never would I have guessed that our little family was the fulcrum on which the nation’s economy was balanced. Talk about the power of one. Seriously, though, come on! Something’s gotta give: groceries are expensive, gas prices are sky-high, and many people can barely afford the roof over their heads. Frankly, we just got sick of paying for infomercials and the same movie lineup week after week.

I’ll let you know how the whole library thing works out. I’m kind of a book snob, in that I like a nice new book and not one that’s all banged up and nasty. Oh, and the whole hoarding thing. That’s going to suffer if I’m only taking books on loan. I’m also starting a new (and, oh yes, exciting!) grocery experiment. If it works, I’ll fill you in on the details. Heck, I’ll even tell you if it’s a failure, because that’s just the kind of girl I am. A girl that wants to sock away sweet, sweet cash, but only if there’s an easy way to do it.


7 responses »

  1. Can’t wait to hear about the grocery experiment. I still haven’t developed a good system for that.

  2. I totally agree… it is hard to think where else I might be able to cut my expenses – there isn’t a whole lot of room for fun in my budget right now. And there is just something about a new book. Plus, having a return deadline has a school-type affect on me – I like to read at leisure and a deadline makes it seem more like work. Can’t wait to hear about the grocery experiment!

  3. The library is my best friend- sad, I know. We have a nice one, but walking out with an armful of books and no bill is therapeutic to me.

  4. I started the library thing a couple of years ago. And it has made a huge difference! I got overwhelmed at the beginning, too many books made it hard to decide what goes home with me. Now I keep a list of books at my desk that I update whenever I read / hear about something I want to read. Armed with this list, I managed to read 42 books last year. It’s helps that I have a 30-45 minute train/bus commute and that I work 3 blocks from the main library. I wouldn’t even have bought most of the books I read last year, so I get to experiment a lot more when I know there’s no financial stake. I still buy craft books. I can’t seem to break myself of that habit. Mostly because the craft selection at the library is rubbish.

  5. Great suggestions! I hear you on the library. I regularly go there and think, “Um, I’m an idiot. Why did i just buy that book on Amazon?”
    Yep. Good reminder.
    Hope your weekend is going great!

  6. As a librarian – I salute you! As the daughter of a librarian, too, we rarely purchased books in our house growing up (of course, there wasn’t a bookstore in our small town either) and I still usually only buy books that I’ve already read and love or at least previewed from the library. To me it’s not just a money saver, but a space saver – I just don’t have room for books I don’t really love and need to have.

  7. Honestly, how cool would it be to find out that the Evil Recession that the analysts are predicting is actually based on industries (like cable and phone companies) that are actually getting their comeuppance from years of mistreating society with inflated rates and poor service?

    Imagine, society rights the wrongs of big business simply by resuming reasonable levels of consumption.

    Now THAT would rule.


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