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Containing my coffee February 27, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Consumerism, Finances, My No Spendy Year.
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Do you know what this might be?


Well, yes it’s a rather used cutting board from Ikea but I mean that black smiley thing. Do you know what that is?

Does this help?Travel Mug

It’s the thread to the lid of my favorite travel mug. The one I take on the train every day. The one that doesn’t leak unless the lid is on wrong and keeps my coffee nice and hot. The one my sister gave me even though she doesn’t drink coffee because she knows how much I like it. That travel mug. With the thread gone, the lid doesn’t seal. I suppose I could still use it but I’d end up with coffee down my shirt every single day. Once is enough to learn that lesson.

My normal morning routine is to make a half pot of coffee, enough for two travel mugs, and then load up this one and my second favorite, the one my daughter brought home for me when she worked a summer in Colorado. I like that one quite a bit but the lid isn’t leak-proof and it doesn’t hold the heat quite as well. I drink the coffee from the number two mug on the way to the train station, then drink from the number one mug on the train. (I first typed “drink number one on the train” and had to go back and edit that line so it didn’t make me giggle.) The coffee in the number one mug is still so hot I can only sip it for the first few minutes.

Now I have a decision to make. Do I buy a new travel mug that doesn’t leak and keeps my coffee steaming hot for a long time, or do I just use what I have? I do have other travel mugs but they aren’t leak-proof.  Also, I think they all have handles and I prefer a travel mug without.

CuppowI also have a few of these great lids that turn a canning jar into a travel mug. I think of them as sippy cups for adults. I used one earlier this week on the day I discovered my favorite mug was broken, but even with the improvised cozy made from my glove the coffee still cooled off too fast. Personally I prefer the Cuppow lids for cold drinks rather than hot but it’s possible I just need better insulation. Maybe I’ll knit up a thick, felted jar cozy this weekend and see if that helps.

At the beginning of the year I said I wasn’t going to buy things that weren’t a real need. Is a leak-proof travel mug a need? As much as I’d like to say yes (so I can buy a new one) I have to say no. I can get along just fine using the mugs I have on hand. If I decide I just can’t live without it, I’ll use my ‘allowance’ and get one in a month or so.



No Spendy Week 5 February 4, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Consumerism, Finances, My No Spendy Year.
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Something happens to me when my checkbook balance gets low — I start wanting to buy stuff. For most of January I was feeling really good about this challenge. I was staying within the rules and seeing a nice little cushion in my bank account. Then I had a week with unexpected expenses, plus bills that had to paid NOW and that cushion vanished. I was back to living paycheck to paycheck and all I could think was “I’d really like a comfortable, overstuffed chair to curl up in and read. Maybe even two — one for the living room and one for my bedroom.”

I’m not about to run out and buy a chair but this hasn’t even been on my radar. I had no idea I wanted a reading chair, much less two. I’m certainly not at a point in my life where I am totally satisfied with what I own and have no desire to add anything new. There are some things I’d like to get someday, both expensive and not so expensive. I also know there isn’t anything that I don’t have that I honestly need. Things I want? Yup, lots of things I want, but nothing I really need.

So why is it, when my bank balance started dipping, that I started making lists of things I want? (To give myself a little credit, I also thought “I wonder how much longer until garage sale season and could I maybe find some nice chairs at a garage sale?”)

I didn’t run out and blow money I don’t have, but I sure wanted to. I really wanted to get carnitas tacos from the local Mexican restaurant and I wanted a dressform and I wanted hot wings and I wanted an Ott light. All of those are things that would add some level of happiness to my life. I love carnitas tacos and crave hot wings. Those two items are the main reason I added Number Nine to my Rules for this year. I also know there is no reason I must indulge in either on a whim. I’m not forbidden from eating either of those, it just needs to fit into my spending plan. I can either make them at home, or go out to eat with friends. (Anyone want to guess what’s going on my grocery list this week?) Someday I will get a dressform but I know that purchase needs to wait.

It is possible however, that I will buy an Ott light this month. Joann Fabrics is having an awesome sale — buy a table lamp and get a floor lamp free. Two lamps for $109.99. Plus, I have a coupon for 15% off my entire purchase, including sale items. I have wanted an Ott light for literally years. As much as I hate to admit it, my eyes are getting older and sometimes close work is a bit challenging. I can use my Free Spending Money so this purchase would fit within my plan, but I’m very on the fence about it. The sale goes through most of this month so I have time to decide.

And I still don’t know why I really want to spend money when I don’t really have any to spend.

My Very Own Personal Fiscal Year September 1, 2012

Posted by phoenixhopes in Consumerism, Goals, life, New Years, thoughts, Uncategorized.
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Later this month I turn 54, solidly in my mid-fifties, no hiding from middle age. (Honestly, I don’t expect to live to 100 or more so shouldn’t the fifties be called something other than middle age?) The main thing that I think about when I consider my age is that I really thought I’d have my life together by now. Instead, here I am still desperately trying to figure out who I want to be when I grow up.

I’ve decided to stop trying to figure that out and simply be who I am today. I am a woman, a mother, a friend, a church member, an employee. I read for fun, for information, for escape and watch movies and tv for the same reasons. I’m an introvert who can sometimes be quite outgoing. I’m single for now (hopefully not forever but I will never again compromise who I am to be with someone). I have trust issues: I’ll trust you until you hurt me and then I may never trust you again. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. I have a difficult time-saving money because there always seems to be something important and urgent to spend it on. I was surprised to find out I like preaching. I tend to over commit. I am a much calmer person when I have a creative outlet of some sort. Sometimes I over think things. I like reading about politics but not so much discussing it. I’m rather competitive and not a very gracious loser. I hate being put on the spot. To sum it all up: I’m a complex person and although most of the time I’m satisfied with who I am, I can see at least some of my flaws well enough to want to work on them.

I decided to see the next twelve months as my very own personal fiscal year. A new birthday equals a new beginning. I want to take stock of where I am and think about where I want to be twelve months from now. My main goal is to be more mindful about my life – am I living a life that is consistent with what I say are my values? Where is my money going? How am I spending my time? How is my soul? What satisfies me?

I’ll use the blog to share the journey.

In which I resort to hyperbole April 1, 2008

Posted by phoenixhopes in Consumerism, Shopping.

Today is the first day of my personal buy nothing challenge and I failed miserably. I may not be able to recover from this. I’m thinking I should just admit defeat and give up now. I’m sure I can find a 24 hour WalMart somewhere and I’ll just go empty my checkbook and get it over with.

I started out ok and brought some yogurt to work for breakfast. I keep a box of granola in a desk drawer and like to sprinkle some on the yogurt. I didn’t buy the made-to-order scrambled eggs, or even succumb to a bagel and juice from the work cafeteria. One gold star to add to my chart. Then, midmorning, I needed to walk away from my desk. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t have been pretty. I asked a co-worker to take a little walk so I could vent and that ‘little walk’ was to head downstairs to Starbucks. It’s pretty convenient having a Starbucks right in the building, but it’s also mighty tempting. I’m not fond of their coffee straight, but a Caramel Macchiotto can certainly brighten my day. And brighten my day it did, except for the twinges of guilt I was trying to ignore.

I had meetings over lunch and was too busy to visit the cafeteria. I try to keep some quick non-perishables in my desk and resorted to a cup of ramen in the afternoon. Not great, but it kept me away from the vending machines.

In the evening it was Youth Group Night. My youngest goes to a group 18 miles from home – too far to drive back and forth – so I need to find something to occupy my time. Often the Middle Boy accompanies me and we spend at least an hour hanging out in Caribou Coffee. Reading, knitting, talking, not doing homework, sometimes working on the laptop. I look forward to the time with him and do not begrudge the price of a decaf mocha (for me) or a coffee cooler (for him). Today he started Spring Marching Band and so I was on my own.

We’re almost out of toilet paper and that’s one thing I do NOT want to run out of, so I steeled myself and went into Target. And bought stuff:

  • 20 roll pack of TP
  • 8 Thank You cards for people at work
  • 2 pkgs of pre-mixed tuna salad to keep at work
  • 2 boxes of granola (with blueberries) from the clearance rack
  • A small notebook that I need for work

So far I’m feeling OK. Yeah, I could have only grabbed the TP (which was on sale, by the way) and left everything else, but I have a definite use and “need” for the cards and notebook. The cards will go out to the Team tomorrow and I’ve already started using the notebook. But then there was this:

A really cute pair of shoes. Oh sigh. I am soooo NOT a “cute shoes” kind of girl. Give me my Birkies and I’m happy. I wear the same pair of black dressy shoes until they fall apart. I’ve worn the same sandals for the last 3 summers. It’s not so much that I’m frugal in this area or trying to make some sort of statement (although I just can’t quite rationalize spending big bucks on shoes), I’m just not that into shoes. Give me comfort and I’m happy. Plus there’s the fact that my feet are long and wide and I’m just plain hard to fit. Mostly I don’t even look at shoes because it’s just too disappointing. But today…. They must have just received a shipment as there were many, many size 11’s in stock. Wide ones even. And I found these cute flowery flats that would look great with my black pants or maybe that spring green skirt in the back of my closet. And they were on sale.

So, day one and I blew it at Starbucks and with the shoes. I am a total and abject failure and I may not recover (this would be a good time to refer to the subject line).

My Plan March 22, 2008

Posted by phoenixhopes in Consumerism, Goals, thoughts.

I have this silly little idea running through my head about a consumer-free April. I’m not sure where it came from but it doesn’t seem to be going away. I only call it silly because I know it’s going to be difficult. I would like to dismiss it as a silly little whim, but I just can’t.

 For the month of April, I am not going to buy anything, other than necessary food or other consumables, with a few planned exceptions. Nothing new, nothing used.

I wonder if I can make it. Already my heart is racing and my palms are a little sweaty. Is it really that unsettling to even think about not spending money? Out of necessity I’m pretty frugal as it is, although I am aware of a few areas where I’m not as careful as I could be.

 Here’s what’s out:

New or used anything that isn’t a necessary consumable such as food or toilet paper. If it’s something that can wait, it will wait until May. If one of the boys suddenly grows out of, or totally destroys, their shoes (again), that would be a necessity. But if the TV remote breaks (again!), that can wait.

Unplanned eating out. It is just too easy to give in to tiredness or just plain laziness and stop for fast food or call out for pizza. The convenience of the cafeteria at work is tempting, but the money adds up quickly. Truthfully, the only reason I buy food in the work cafeteria is because I didn’t want to make a lunch at home.

Yarn or other craft supplies that are not absolutly necessary to complete a project that absolutely must be completed NOW. Ninety-nine percent of the yarn and related supplies that I purchase is, at some level, an impulse buy and could easily be postponed. Yeah, I know, it’s on sale… it’s a deal… I’ve been wanting to try this yarn and how can I pass it up… but it’s money I don’t need to spend.

Books. Oy, this is going to hurt. Is there anything more pleasant than an hour spent in a bookstore, wandering the aisles, listening for the ones that call out to me? And I do listen and more often than not bring one or two (or more) home with me.

So what is allowed?

Necessary consumables such as food, etc., although I want to be more aware of how I’m spending this money. I need to do more planning for our meals and snacks and then follow those plans.

Planned meals away from home rather than the spontaneous. My monthly Team Lunch. My “date nights” with the boys to Caribou Coffee. Pizza or some other non-homecooked meal for the family once and only once.

Can I be successful limiting myself to only these items? I’d love to confidently say yes, but I honestly don’t know. I don’t waste a lot of money simply because I can’t afford to, but I know I blow it in the areas above. I’ve learned that the best way to avoid “retail therapy” and impulse shopping is to simply avoid even entering a store without an iron clad list in hand. But knowing that doesn’t keep me away from Hobby Lobby or Borders.

I’ll begin this April 1. It’s difficult to resist the urge to run out and stock up now but if I’m honest with myself, what do I really need to stock up on? I already own more books than I could possibly read through in the next month even if things like work and sleep didn’t get in the way. The same thing could be said for craft supplies. There is very little that I really need to add to my life.

Anyone care to join me?