Sunday, August 24, 2008


Lois Greiman

I’m not sure when ‘they’ started telling us that the economy was in the toilet, but for the longest time I would have been totally unaware of the fact if they would have simply quit talking about it.

Now, however, more than any time in my life, I can really feel the crunch. As an author, of course, I’m accustomed to making no money, so nothing has changed there. :) But my husband has always made a decent income. Six months or so ago, however, his business began slowing down, and now we feel the need to cut back. Which is kind of scary, because I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m spoiled. And I like being spoiled. But things are going to have to change.

I’ve always shopped at consignment stores. Partly because it’s environmentally friendly and partly because I can get unique garments there. (Which you probably wouldn’t consider to be a good thing if you saw my wardrobe…although Daughter looks cute in her all-used show ensemble, aye? I think we got that whole outfit, fedora included, for less than five bucks at Savers.)

Last Christmas I made a rule that no one could buy new gifts. Everyone would have to buy used or hand make something. It was very amusing. I've rarely enjoyed the holidays more.

But I never use coupons, I rarely cook, and I’m extremely attached to my horses which, I readily admit, are the biggest waste of money in the universe.

So I’m looking for advice: Have any of you come up with a painless way to save cash? Maybe you’ve discovered a fantastic means to make more money. Or perhaps nothing has changed for you financially. What say you?


Debra Dixon said...

Oh, Lois! Right there with you on the Spoiled Train headed for the washed out bridge.

Boy oh boy is this a topic that so many folks are dealing with. We've been lucky enough to weather the economy so far in pretty good shape, but my clients have slowed some, which means less income for me.

And always I feel retirement looming. No, no, no. It's not for quite a while (g) But it's no longer 20 years away. I have to either start socking more away than we'd budgeted to put away or prepare for life to change drastically. Just energy costs have changed the equation.

I'm looking at ways to save money but the old-standbys are the only ones I can think of. Thermostat up or down, whichever saves money that season.

I'm trying not to impulse buy anything. Hubby actually researced tires on line, changed brands and bought them on sale.

We told the dog not to get sick. Not sure how that's going to work out.

Kylie said...

Let the whining commence...I wanna be spoiled too! But with five kids it took a loooooot of years for me to get my turn, ya know? And it hardly seems fair that now when we finally got them all graduated from college (and are left holding the bottomless college loan bag) the economy takes a nosedive. Isn't that sort of adding insult to injury?

It doesn't help that we had two, count them *two* sons get married this summer a month a part. I swear, it's like kids can smell any extra $$$ we might have and dream up ways to suck it dry :)

I think I'm doing my part by not cooking anymore, LOL! That saves on groceries, right? And my husband could stand to lose a few pounds. It's a win-win.

But if I really really had to tighten my belt (in which case at least I'd get a decent profile) I suppose I could find someone who does my hair cheaper. Stop getting my nails done. And...shudder...I could put off retirement from my day job even longer.

But no need to be hasty. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping things get better. In the meantime, I can always stock up on ramen noodles....

AuthorM said...

I've always shopped at thrift and consignment stores! My son and I took a weekly trip to the Salvation Army (50% off on family days!) while my daughter was in religious school. Now that they'll both be in class on Wednesday evenings I can hit the S.A. ALONE! Ohhh...the hours spent sifting through racks of clothes, barely worn, for one or two bucks?

Come to think of it, maybe I'm actually NOT saving any money by buying things I don't really need but can't resist. Then again, my favorite black wrap dress -- $1.00 -- who can beat it?

Belt tightening has to happen, though. Store brands instead of name brands, driving less often to the coffee shop to write (saves on gas AND the cost of coffee and lunch) restricting my iTunes usage. That's a biggie.

And considering the trip I just came home from, I don't even want to think about how much money we spent on gas! It's time to get back into saving rather than spending.


lois greiman said...

Deb, energy costs. Wow. My sister went to Norway. They paid $14 a gallon in gasoline there. And that could happen here. I've always thought that high gas prices were actually a good thing because it would force us to find better/cleaner forms of energy, but it's taking it's toll. And I still can't afford a hybrid. So it's going to have to be a cold winter.

Kylie, good thinking on the not cooking thing. It can only be a good thing, right? :)

Playground Monitor said...

We have no mass transit system here so I have to drive. But I plan my trips carefully. I'm the oddity -- I cook. But the cost of good, wholesome food is outrageous. I've usually spent $25-30 before I even get out of the produce department. Eating healthy food is expensive.

I love thrift stores but we don't have a decent one here. And the consignment shops carry fancier clothes than I need for everyday. Most of my wardrobe is from Wally World or Ross (I only shop there on Tuesday when I get my discount for being over 55).

We keep the thermostat up in summer and down in winter and have ceiling fans in most rooms to keep the air stirred up. I close the blinds on the south side in summer to keep the heat out and reverse the process in winter to let the sun heat up those rooms.

I can't afford a hybrid either, but I drive a small, efficient car that gets good gas mileage.

And retirement! The DH and I are looking at a policy for long term care. He works for a defense contractor and right now that's very solid. At least this program has civilian applications too.

It's tough for everyone, but I feel blessed to have it as good as we do.


Cindy Gerard said...

Hi guys. I've been absent from the blog because - well, I've been absent. Back for a few days and adding my 2 cents.
I'm another one of the spoiled woman chiming in. Give me a sale, baby. I'm there. I'm always there. that's my contribution and I'm sticking with it. And I save by using my charge card. Yup. I've gotten 2 free airline tickets this past year from points I built up by using my charge card for EVERYTHING. Just pay it off at the end of each month to avoid any interest or service charges and I'm golden.
Seriously, if you can figure out a way to NOT carry over a balance on your cards each month, you save mega $$ on carrying costs.

Michele Hauf said...

I'm feeling the $$$ every time I walk in the grocery store. The Boy emailed me yesterday (yes, he's gone; but he emails, bless him). He couldn't believe how expensive groceries were. ANd the hubby, I took him with me grocery shopping the other day. He couldn't believe how expensive groceries were!
Boyz! They just don't have a clue.

So I'm in the less cooking mindset, too, lately.
I also only shop at Target, and rarely get new clothes or shoes. I don't drive anywhere, so save gas. Good thing about this writing gig, the office is at home.

I'm a stickler for turning out lights and turning off the heater and air.

Now, the biggest $$$ suck? The hubby's cell phone bill! That man talks so much...

Betina Krahn said...

Lois, I feel your pain. I got a wake-up call the other day at the hair salon. . . they raised prices again and almost charged me for two services I hadn't gotten. I nearly swallowed my teeth before asking them to check the total again, mentioning that I hadn't gotten a hair cut or a major hair coloring-- just partial highlights. Still charged a fortune. I've been with this gal for 8 years and now I'm going to have to find somebody else.

We go to the movies each week-- but I'm not giving that up-- just eating less popcorn and snacks.

We've been eating a lot less junk food since being on WW, but I'm shopping more carefully in the produce aisle and meat counter. . . shopping sales and letting specials dictate what we're eating. (Seasonal delights!)

I drive a hybrid, but my gas mileage isn't spectacular. I comfort myself with the notion that my "emmissions" are less. Plus, we've cranked up the thermostat(less AC)and use the ceiling fans where appropriate. I'd love to find a cheaper yard guy, but with the price of fuel, everybody is sky high. (Before you suggest I do the yard myself, you have to remember this is Florida and yardwork isn't a hobby, it's a weekly fight!) The winters in Minnesota (yard downtime) are looking better all the time.

Christie Ridgway said...

I tried going to a different hairdresser a while back. She'd moved and the drive took too long (and this was before gas was so expensive). But my new person just didn't have her touch. When the first gal moved back to her old salon, I returned to her...and her prices keep increasing and I keep paying.

I don't have horses, though!

lois greiman said...

Betina, what kind of hybrid do you drive?

My son has a Honda and gets about 57 miles to the gallon.

Playground Monitor said...

Hands off my hairdresser! LOL! Women have two sacred relationships: one with their hairdresser and the other with the gynecologist.

I've been with my hairdresser for 28 years -- through both her divorces and the death of her second husband from lymphoma, her daughter's mystery illness that nearly incapacitated her (but has been solved, yay!), and two salon changes. I don't drink or smoke, so by golly I'm keeping my hairdresser. :-)

I tried one time to go somewhere else and the woman messed my hair up so badly I had to go to my regular gal to fix it. So I saved nothing.

lois greiman said...

My poor hair. I always go cheap. Have never had a hairdresser that I love.

Hey, just a tip...does everyone know that if you have an appliance plugged in it uses energy even if it's not turned out? I'm trying to keep everything unplugged and turned off.

Anonymous said...

Timely post. It's tough all around. I agree with raising the thermostat and using fans. Living in Arkansas, the humidity is awful. We've got a dehumidifier that helps keep the house comfortable.

No new cars. Staying home - very little travel. Reduced the number of times we are going out to eat. Using the library to check out books for authors I want to read before I start buying their books.

I've read about unplugging appliances, but it seems like such a hassle for some of them (like the tv, computer, washer, etc.) But those-in-the-know call them electricity vampires.

Hairdresser - I bow at his feet. He hasn't increased prices in years. $35 for a haircut. Not bad AND he does a decent job. Haircut with hi-lights and low-lights, $85. Can't beat it. That is, IF I needed hi and low lights. I'm a, er, natural (cough cough) blond.

Liza said...

I turn up my a/c in the summer and turn down the heat in the winter. I love spring and fall, I can just have my windows open. I do keep the small appliances I don't use much unplugged, but the big ones are too much of a hassle.

I go to the same hair dresser I've used since I was a teen. She lives in my hometown, so I schedule my trips home around my hair appointments(my dad knows this too).

Wal-mart gas is usually about 10-15 cents cheaper than other gas stations, if you keep money on a WM giftcard. I saw it this morning for $3.30 a gallon(with card).

lois greiman said...

Arkansas, I wonder if you spend as much on cooling your house as we Minnesotans spend on warming ours.

You're a little far away for me to use your hairdresser...but I'm tempted.

byrdloves2read said...

Another spoiled female chiming in here. I have a friend who is a whiz with coupons - she's been known to gets multiple bags of groceries for pennies (double coupons and all that). Use the coupons for restaurants if you eat out. Also, use the credit card that gives either money or reward points (we use Discover and American Express) and pay them off at the end of each month. We've gotten gift cards to Darden restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc.) and my favorite is Barnes & Noble gift card - all from points earned with credit card charges.

Susan Kay Law said...

Deb, I feel retirement coming, too. Our 401K just isn't going up nicely anymore, and I realized we can't count on as much there as I thought. Which means either working longer or downsizing more than I expected in retirement.

I cook, though, and am I being a lot more careful about not wasting. Roast chicken tonight, and the bones will be in stock for soup tomorrow, and the bits of meat will probably go in sesame noodles or quesadillas.

I've been even making my own bread this summer. I haven't quite got the touch yet, but I'm getting there . . .


lois greiman said...

I'm so impressed, Susie. Making bread sounds like fun. But everything takes time that I never seem to have.

Kylie said...

Did you ever notice that it often takes money to save money? We replaced our second (yep, our big old house has two) furnace/air conditioner units this summer. So we paid about $5000 to save about $20 a month on heat this winter. Hmmmm.

And I'm ashamed to admit what we drive--a pickup and a Suburban. We have the carbon footprint of a Yeti! But my husband farms part time so needs the truck. And somehow I am still hauling people and stuff around and need the gas guzzler. We have to get something to drive when we're going to see the kids and don't have to haul stuff. But that means shelling out 15-20 K for a third car.

Sigh. Maybe I could just get in the habit of turning off my computers. I leave them both on 24/7 and that is not very green of me. Talk about sucking electricity!

lois greiman said...

Yeah, I have a truck too for the trailer, but I try to leave it in the garage whenever its not dragging a horse around.

And yep, I'm turning off my computer now even though they used to say to leave them on all the time.

During the winter I'm just going to have to bundle up more. Burr.

Betina Krahn said...

Okay. Lois, I drive a medium-sized black hybrid. :) I can't say the name or the product placement police may get me.

But as far as I'm concerned, Paying to be comfortable temperature-wise is as important as anything in life. For millenia people tried to regulate the temperature of their homes-huts-caves and would have been purple with envy at our climate controlled living spaces. So in honor of their sacrifices and ingenuity that made AC and Central Heating possible. . . I will used them proudly and be comfy. . . at least as far as temperature is concerned. I'll just turn off a few more lights and unplug the toaster and my computer.

I just discovered, my computer has a sleep fuction that I can control!! Now, every time I step away from my desk I put it to sleep. Keeps the office cooler and saves electricity big-time.

Betina Krahn said...

Okay. Lois, I drive a medium-sized black hybrid. :) I can't say the name or the product placement police may get me.

But as far as I'm concerned, Paying to be comfortable temperature-wise is as important as anything in life. For millenia people tried to regulate the temperature of their homes-huts-caves and would have been purple with envy at our climate controlled living spaces. So in honor of their sacrifices and ingenuity that made AC and Central Heating possible. . . I will used them proudly and be comfy. . . at least as far as temperature is concerned. I'll just turn off a few more lights and unplug the toaster and my computer.

I just discovered, my computer has a sleep fuction that I can control!! Now, every time I step away from my desk I put it to sleep. Keeps the office cooler and saves electricity big-time.

Sean and Anna said...

We've always been a pretty eco-friendly family... reusable bags, buying local, my husband rides a bike to work etc. We even unplug the electrical vampire items(Thank you for the term arkansas Cyndi) because we plug the big items into surge protectors and flip one switch.

My latest discovery is that being green is expensive!!! Who knew? The cost of groceries has doubled here in AZ but gas is lower than most states (around 3.60). I want to support my local farmers and all but not at the expense of my wallet. I did hear that Walmart is buying local now, in an effort to reduce shipping costs.

I am semi spoiled but I try to keep a budget- no more salon color but I get a cut every 6 weeks. I live in the desert so the a/c is on 24/7 until October, but we tough it out for as long as possible in winter. My family at least has job security because my honey is military, but that creates a whole new level of stress:)

My only real saving techniques are: I home cook all the time and we eat out once a pay period, I recycle clothes and household items but I sell what I can at local resale shops first, and I trade my used books but only the ones that I cannot live without. All these things save me money especially when I can get store credits and get new stuff.