Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Grab that Cash with Both Hands and Make a Stash!!!

Money!! It's a crime!!

Ok, I'll stop quoting Pink Floyd now and get down to it. Money has been much on my mind lately and I have a tiny inkling that I might not be the only one feeling that way. Yet it seems hard to talk about it, like its a sensitive subject or something. Perhaps it has to do with our definitions of success: if I talk about worrying about money or pinching pennies then people will think we are not successful and feel sorry for us and in our society not successful with money=not successful as a human being. We at least feel that way a little bit, deep down, even though it's not true!! But in today's economic climate, you can make pretty good money and still feel the pinch!! We are not suffering for lack of money but I'm still suffering from a chronic disease known as Worrywartitis. Have you heard of it? Maybe you have a touch of it too? If you watch the news you are probably experiencing symptoms of worrywartitis. It's definitely contagious!!

We have been working really hard on storing up food and necessary items and I think we have done really well there. If you haven't worked on that I highly recommend it. It feels really good to look at a pile of food and know that you will be ok for awhile if something should happen! We are also trying to pay off our only debt, which is basically MY student loan. The thing that we really need to do for me to lessen my "symptoms" would be to build up more savings. We have a fairly good amount in our 401k, but that is pretty inaccessible (and quickly losing its value). What I'm really trying to work on is our basic savings account. To accomplish this, I need to get better at saving money. Makes sense, right?

Like you (probably), I have things I'm good at and things I'm not so good at. Not so good at: sometimes I just cannot HANDLE eating or preparing anything we have in the house so we go out to eat; I'm picky about the food we eat and sometimes buy the more expensive but healthier stuff; sometimes I buy clothes that I never end up wearing and I never take back. That's just a few of my downfalls but you get the idea! And yet I think I have some strengths in the budgeting area also. The other day I told my sister-in-law that I'm a bit of a cheapskate and she said she would never have guessed that about me! At first I thought she was being sarcastic! Then I realized she really just hasn't known me long enough. I've often joked that I was raised in the Great Depression. In truth I've just spent my life reading way too many books that take place during that time. And I really LOVE to find ways to save money. Frugality feels a little bit like creativity to me, does that make sense? I may not be making something, but I'm saving something and that is pretty close. This nutty frugality kick of mine is very closely related to my inner granola. If something saves me money and trees then I am on it!

So here is where I come out of the closet and confess some of the zany things I do to save money and the planet (I'm not saying which is more important although I'd like to also remind you that by "the planet" I also mean our children's health and cuddly animals, and drinkable water and yes, beautiful, gorgeous, good-smelling, spirit-lifting, wind-breaking, erosion-preventing, air-quality-improving, huggable trees). Feel free to scoff at my silliness and don't think too hard about the one or two things I left out because I'm a little too chicken to admit to them unless I know you are a card-carrying member of the Clandestine Hippie Club. So now in no particular order....

Crazy Little Things I Do That Probably Don't Save Much But Make Me Feel Better Anyway:

1. I wash and reuse sandwich baggies, plastic produce bags and sometimes even foil, and use plastic shopping bags for our trash bags.
2. I've never bought a paper towel in my life. Those commercials about how this or that brand of paper towel has a more "cloth-like feel" really crack me up. Guess what has a really "cloth-like feel"? Cloth!!!
3. We use cloth diapers. I know, crazy. But don't knock it till you've tried it! We love it and find it super duper easy. We do use a few disposables, to be honest, but I'd say it's only 10% of the time.
4. My entire skin care regime consists of one thing: coconut oil. That's it. Ok, if I'm feeling like I want to pamper myself I'll use a little honey. But that's pretty rare. It's great, it's cheap, the tub I bought nearly 2 years ago is only maybe half gone and coconut oil has a fantastically long shelf-life. It also works great in your hair and helps kill cold sores! It's pretty miracle stuff!
5. (I'm almost done!) We eat pretty basically. Almost no processed foods. We bake our own bread and sprout our own sprouts and have even started making our own breakfast granola. I hope that it makes up a little (budget-wise) for the fact that I'm not the best bargain-shopper and sometimes I splash out on organic and I don't cut any coupons. Last summer we grew our first garden, but because we had a newborn we mainly just grew buckets of tomatoes, which worked out perfectly because I eat tomatoes like they are going extinct. This year we really hope to grow more, but since neither one of us is what you'd call a natural green thumb, it will definitely be a learning process!
6. Last but not least, I wash pretty much my entire house with vinegar and baking soda and a little hydrogen peroxide.

I hope this doesn't sound like bragging. I'm actually really nervous to post this because I'd hate for anyone to think I'm extreme. This stuff is mostly just a balm for my worrywartitis flare-ups. It's kind of like when your whole house is a mess and you're all stressed out because you feel you can never get it Really Clean so you just do the dishes and scrub the sink and you feel SO much better to have that one shining little corner in the chaos. Do you have anything like that? That little thing that gives your spirit a lift when you've been down in the dumps or that little bit of service you perform when you've been thinking about yourself too much lately or something deep and intelligent you think about when you've been talking about the potty with your toddler for far too long?

Coming Soon: I'm going to post more about #6 on my list because my cousin requested it(sorry this is taking so long Adrienne!), because your house will be a cleaner place (meaning dirt, germs, AND toxins that hurt you and your kids), and because it really is super cheap and super easy. But not tonight because I need to go to bed!


Janae said...

Not totally nutty. I do a few of those things myself. As for the $ issue maybe you should try the Dave Ramsey cash thing. Find out how much money you need for certain items. This especially helps me with clothes. If I only have xxx in cash for clothes it makes me think and re think purchases. Then when I finally do decide to buy it I am fairly confident that i will like it.

Nate and Jessica said...

You pulled that off beautifully! I am anxious to hear about 6 as well.

Jen said...

This topic has been on my mind a lot lately, too. Something I've come to realize more and more, though, is that while it may SEEM like those who are successful with money are the "successful" ones in life, our entire economy and culture is built on a facade. The majority of Americans have been living beyond their means for decades and that's the reason why we're in this mess to begin with. We're an entire country of people who really aren't successful with money at all, hence the recession.

Anyway, I'm blabbering. But I totally agree with everything you've posted. We had a pretty healthy savings at one point, but it's been used for what it's there for (unemployment, medical emergencies, etc.) over the past several years and it needs some sprucing up. So basically I've been worrywarting over that exact thing as well.

I also second Janae's suggestion - we've been doing Dave Ramsey's thing for several months and it's really helped.

Jen said...

Oh, and can I just say I love your thoughts and I love you even more for posting them? I'm always glad when you go out on a limb :)

Adrianne & her Toddler said...

I love it! I wish I could be more like you and not WANT to use all the chemicals, and eat all organic. Thanks awesome.
Oh thanks can't wait for more of #6