Smell the clean.

January 7, 2015 1 comment

Exhibit A. The murder weapon.

Exhibit A. The murder weapon.

Sometimes your day doesn’t go exactly as you planned, yah know?
Today started off as misshapen as a Belly Flop (look it up people) and got a little worse as it went on.

What were my stages into hell, you ask? And more to the point, did any of them pertain to money or is this simply cheap therapy? Read on to be sure.

1. I smashed a used, up-cycled glass spaghetti sauce jar while trying to tidy the kitchen. Glass everywhere.

2. A screaming match about the laundry lint trap not being cleaned out (this practice is to extend the built-in life expectancy of your dryer. The cleaning, not the yelling.)

3. Proceeded to kill a spider with a tissue box and then lost the critter in the carpet fibers. Serves me right for not abiding by a “live and let crawl policy”.

4. I could not for the life of me get the remnant Kiehl’s hair leave in product out of the bottom of the bottle (yes people, I turned it over for 10 days and tried to force it to drip to the “top”.) It still would not come out, and in the end, my vigorous shaking triggered it to fly from the plastic lip onto the mirror and smeared down the glass. (Why????)

5. No time for breakfast, because of the Kiehl’s debacle. Had to tote my meal to work in hopes of finding a way to the toaster in the kitchen (yes, I saved $3.75 by not doing what Maude would do… “Just buy.”)

6. Got to work and my 8:30am appointment was waiting for me in the lobby. No breakfast.

6a. Meeting at 9:30am. No breakfast.

6b & c. Meeting at 10 and 10:30am. No breakfast.

7. 11:15am, ate cold African peanut soup during a conference call. For breakfast. I felt like I was back in college. No I went to BU, not school in Nairobi.

8. Lots happened at work today. Enough to make me rub my face for an extra long time.

9. I left at 6:40pm, keenly aware that there was more African peanut soup for dinner (leftover hump day) and that I might turn into an African peanut.

10. Drove home in African peanut soup (it is the new version of Pacific NW fog).

And then, I smelled it.


I hired a cleaning lady to come and make my world better. My life is rich, sparkly and delightful. But a little extra shine and a little less dust make even the roughest start a smooth and silky ending. Try it. Convince your spouse – if there is a fight that you are worth it and they are worth it. Make sure it fits in the budget and then go find yourself a way to make sure it always fits in the budget.

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January 1, 2015 1 comment

bed suspenders

Sometimes there is not a word to describe how you feel, what you do or why you do something. It’s the soliloquy, less travelled.

When wordless choices happen to you – quick – make your own. They are cheap; you can claim ownership and others might quote you – beyond the urban dictionary.

Today it was time for me to launch a new phrase for my saving’s vernacular. As I mentioned on a recent post – the retail establishments of the 21st century have started expanding their own terminology for their selling floor. Sure, just like the Inuit population – who has 50 words for frozen precipitation, the retail world’s newest catch phrase for the cash register approach is the “opportunity section” (see one of my recent posts for an elaboration on the term). I dare say that today – once again – I went into the aforementioned “opportunity section”, blood-let some hard-earned doubloons, and a new word was born.

You might be wondering how the Super Saver – The Clutcher of Coins – fares during the holiday season? Please people, I am a Saver, I am not the Saviour. I, too, was hit by a multi-bill Nordstrom charge, a party budget that exceed my normal chip and dip extravaganza and un piece de resistance – a new bed for my daughter. The holiday rush affects me – just like it does everyone else. I am human. But the key is to not lose one’s self in the mayhem. Let the “may” be a “maybe” and hold out on your purchases. Try to know that:
A. You REALLY need it;
B. You FOUND the best price;
C. You are SURE it is the solution to your needs.

Overall, if you can keep your impulse purchases to under $30 a trip, you’ll be very successful-la-la-la…la-la-la-la.

And so, this holiday season, we were a saving success story. No major financial commitments made. And only a few large purchases achieved by using our patent pending process:
Stop (think about it);
Drop (the item in question);
Roll (away).

The largest purchase, we authorized? A bed for Maude. She’s now 5’ 7” and is hanging off the full sized bed we bought for her 7 years ago, by 4 inches. Basically the kid I used to call “Short pants” is a “long trouser” and she needs a bed that will keep her from having pre-mature “drop foot”. She needs an extra long full.

So… we shopped, compared and identified the best quality for the price. We special ordered and it’s coming soon to a bedroom like hers.

But what about sheets….

This is where they get you. Beware you who require special sized – ANYTHING. The Extra Long Sheet set is the equivalent to the women’s shoe – sized 13 and the 24-inch shirt neck for men. Bottom line, these products like the sheets we need are elusive, and expensive.

Sure, you can get anything from Amazon. Echos of, “Bed Bath and Beyond has what you need,” rattle in my mind. But do you know the price of discovery? $129.99 for a set of extra long full sheets. I am sorry. I will f-ing sew them myself before I pay that. And then it hit me. What would a person do to try and make the queen sheet fit the X-long full? I researched and found out that there is a product, not unlike suspenders, for your bed. You lay them on top of the bed box spring once and then you simply dress you bed for a lifetime – in queen sheets. Clutch One. Retail nil. Thus the new word. Saluoosh.

Financial Rapture.

December 22, 2014 3 comments

Little Nikki. All dolled up.

Little Nikki. All dolled up.

The lottery.

A wise man once told me that it was impossible to win if you do not play, and I firmly believe that truism. Seriously, how many of you possess a Fairy-G-d person in your life who would be thrilled to grant you a Powerball ticket, with the correct picks, post drawing. If you do know some Fairy, please send them to me – post-haste. Until that time, please refrain from betting on the Fairy. If you want to win, you have to pay to play….

In measuring lottery interest, mine can be ascertained by the number of tickets in which I have invested in over my adulthood. Now don’t get me wrong, I know I “have something” (and it’s not just great hair and stamina) – I was a very lucky child. How so you ask?
– I found change in almost every pay phone I ever prodded.
– I discovered a $20 bill stuck in a book once, in a bookstore.
– I was chosen for the kindergarden fundraiser which consisted of modelling the fall and spring fashions of 1974, at Jonathan Maynard Elementary.

(On that last proofpoint, it might not seem like luck at first blush, but if you saw the pictures – it had to either be luck or the fact that no one else fit into the little navy frock with the emboidered apple emblazened upon the chest. See photo above. Let’s go with luck for now, ok?)

Bottom lining it people… Lady Luck, herself, dines with me on a regular basis.

So how many lottery tickets have I purchased? Maybe 20 in my entire adult life. A few have been because my husband asked me to, every once and a while a couple were gifts which – had they been winners – would have paid dividends beyond our wildest expectations and really deserved a thank-you yacht. And then there were the group ones. But what did they all have in common? Each little paper promissory carried a dream and an assured belief I would win. (Good thing I am a winner in life).

(And this is the part of our blog interlude where the post’s title means more than happiness).

With the lottery, at times, there are large jackpots that interest the casual player draw them to their local 7-11 for more than a Slurpee. For instance – a real frenzy trigger seems to be about $70 million. All of a sudden – $70M becomes significant. $62M, for some reason does not have the same cache. At a measly $62M payout, you’d never be able to show your face around the club. (I assume everyone would need time to adjust to the lower socio-economic level… Riff-raff).

Seriously, when the proverbial pot climbs and the payout (gross) is somewhere around $70M people start scheming and dreaming. Each joins in to ultimately search out the big payout. I have a hypothesis that in the event a person is offered a check for $50,000 tax free versus a lottery ticket for $70M, they might choose the dream over the reality. I personally am a “one in the hand, is worth two in the bush”-type-gal, and therefore would likely opt for the sure thing. It’s a control and safety thing for me. But… hell… this isn’t a post about me, it’s about the lottery (and of course how I feel about the lottery).

Grand fear. Choosing to not “go in” on the group lottery ticket at work and they hit pay dirt.

What is financial rapture? It’s when all of your co-workers grab their winnings and never come to the office again. You are left at the water cooler, alone or with the other schlubs, wondering why you were too pig-headed to buy into the fantasy. How lonely.

As you know, I am not into wasting money, but the thought of being left behind makes me shudder (and drop 2 bucks into the kitty.) Meow.

Supporting the economy.

December 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Supporting the economy.400a

Yeah. That 400-point gain today. That was me.

You can all thank me later…

Of course it wasn’t only me, but I was definitely a driving force. As some of you know I consider myself the Faith Popcorn of trends – just I am not popped yet. (Go look her up and feel smarter.)

To elaborate – I can spot a trend. I can start a trend. I can also stop one in its tracks.

How do I know? I brought paella back. (You might not have known it was gone, but it was.) I knew that schnauzers would be back in vogue (within the century). So what did I do? I bought two, to be ready. Think I am wrong about it? Mentally cruise your neighborhood canine population and get back to me with an off the hip count… I know of a righteous 6-pack of German silverbacks in my haunt dying to bark at you from their saliva-glazed windows. (Whoops, that’s my house.) Take my word for it, know when a trend is about to hit. And I smell money. Market on the rise.

The 400-point spike today – the highest since Nov 2011 (which I also had a hand in triggering by throwing a 42nd birthday party for myself… not) was brought on by a swirl of effortful government control, slowed rate hikes, oil prices on a slump and yes. I spent money.

Realizing that I cannot possibly take credit for the surge all on my own, I want to thank the nice lady who bought the mega pack of Jelly Bellies in the “opportunity section” of Home Goods. I did my “holiday shopping” there last night. Savvy Shopper FYI Alert – Did you know that the new, elongated experience of small knick-knacks, candy, soda pop and smelly candles which is housed in a TSA-like snaking aisle before the checkout in stores is referred lovely as the “opportunity section”? The retailers have set up this garden maze of faux plants and Red-Hots for your “shopping enjoyment” (please read the definition of the word “enjoyment” here as “extension”). Yes, that is what the 18-year-old check out girl who carefully wrapped all of my items in pre-shredded hamster cage paper told me – opportunity section. This young Retail Rita also let me know that people have been jovial this season at the new Home Goods store, to the point that they are allowing others to pass them by in the opportunity section, as they continued to “not be ready” to check out.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need another opportunity to shop, I am already there. What I do need is the ability to get it all done, call it good, limit the choices, stick to a budget, and move on.

And that is what I did Wednesday night. I moved the needle on the Dow with my contribution to the consumer-spending index. Index me down two bills and 9 gifts.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Olympics of Finance.

Recycle! Peanut butter jar turned whipped cream vessel. Noodle, used.

Recycle! Peanut butter jar turned whipped cream vessel. Noodle, used.

Today I went to the semi-finalist qualifying round of saving. I left with a good score, but I am not sure it’s enough to get into the final heat. Or should I say, maintain it…

What am I referring to and where the hell have I been for the last few weeks? Well for those of you who are also connected to Facebook, you know I have been running my little tushie off (or so it appears to people who only think they know what size I actually am). Normally I use business travel as the reason for an absent discourse on the blog, but alas, with more and more co-workers reading my blog – Greetings Michelle Kitrell and Andrew Over – I know that my fibs will be found out. Heck, we are a regional business. Truth be told, I have been working, mothering and working at mothering. That crap is hard.

Onward. Today I had to run from work, late in the day to meet with the financial planner. Will I go to the dentist? Not since early 2013. Do I love to see the phlebotomist? Uh, unlikely (though she did tell me I dodged the diabetes bullet for another round). It was an appointment with my CFP (Certified Financial Planner), which I have planned, schemed, and saved for, for years. I trained for this day. I ate my Wheaties (which are 3 points on Weight Watchers) and I did my stretches and I was ready.

What was this appointment for? Was it for him to tell me how much to save? Was it to go over the budget or previous quarterly earnings? No. This was a special day, those or run-of-the-mill appointments.

Today we found out if we could retire, early.

For some people, so I have heard, retirement is a myth, a story of yesteryear that old folks tell with a far off look in their eyes as they pull up to the Early Bird special at Shari’s. Retirement means living off what you made and what you saved. To be fair, I extended the definition a little bit to include a few others routes which are, Nobel Prize, famous author, inheritance and lottery. But those were not the cards Mitch and I were dealt. We were given a gene to save and we nurtured it and it split, and spilt and split again (just like my Microsoft stock in the mid-90s).

I am not going to pretend that I am going to give you the answer to the question. To quote “my guy” there are a lot of levers to pull. Work longer, spend less, die earlier. As you might have assumed, I really did not like Option 3, so I, like the people on House Hunters International, am knocking Option 3 out completely.

Please do however take this blog at face – value. If I were retiring really early, I’d be there my now. So obviously, we have some distance to go. But what I can tell you is that this meeting was my Olympic qualifier for retirement. The Russian judge told “Da” and me to keep on keeping on I will.

In order to keep my tried and true colors of saving, I came home and quickly reused a recycled peanut butter jar, in which I made whipped cream, to top our pie on National Pie (3.14) day. It’s choices like this which made the difference between saving and not. About crossing the finish line at 60 versus 62.

It’s about beating inflation so that you don’t lose everything you gain.
And it’s about damn good toppings for pie that used to be messy.

Copyright frugality.

February 13, 2014 Leave a comment
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The Volvo parked in my bonus room.

February 9, 2014 1 comment

My last post drew a lot of buzz-fire from the passionate runner to the quintessential miser to the knee preserver. Some of the shout outs I received were:
• Get an elliptical (I have one)
• Get a used treadmill (I have one)
• Get some rain gear and don’t get the treadmill (I have some, except what one would cover one’s shoes with).

The Volvo in the bonus room. 240,000 steps and still rotating.

The Volvo in the bonus room. 240,000 steps and still rotating.

The question at hand is not whether I continue to run; that train has left the station. The bigger issue looms – do we invest in a new piece of equipment for a new white-hot passion.
The purchase of anything over $100 really gets the work-over in our house. Should I? What else could I do? Can I get it used? What would it mean to not know the history of its use (everything is different)? What is the opportunity cost (meaning: what else could I do with the money if I did not buy it – for those of you sad, non-econ majors)?

Then there is the cost of getting it, assembling it and finding out there is something wrong in the firmware, the controls, the mechanism, etc… (Which is what I found on EVERY MODEL I read reviews on…)? All I wanted was a Volvo for the bonus room. I wanted a workhorse, a rotating electric sidewalk for when the snow came and I just could not handle the weather. BTW – this has yet to happen. I have jogged in rain, freezing temps and heavy wind. It was the snow and ice that drew the issue this time.

Since today was a running day, and yesterday was a sloth day (I did next to nothing but exercise my cooking pots), I decided to try to use the “treadmill we own.” Why would I stray from such a delightful machine? The last time I tried to use it, it seemed to change speeds and scared me. I walked away from it, and have not used, since. I chalked it up to the fact that the carpet movers did something horrid when they laid the new carpet. Sadly, something went awry in the old C2200. The battering ram of exercise, with its metal arms and a heavier than shit fuselage had acted like an adversary made me afraid of my own drywall.

But today, I gave a second chance. I decided to give it one last stride.

I accomplished an interval workout, including jogging and elliptical sections. No issues with the treadmill. No speed ups. No worries. I decided to use it till it dies.

So what will I do with the $2499 I was contemplating to spend on a treadmill? Save it up for a vacation for our 20th anniversary.

It’s about time we bought an experience, instead of a roof. Amen.

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