December 2011 - Posts - Thrifty Living Today
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Thrifty Living Today

December 2011 - Posts

  • Take Time to Think

    One of the most important things a person can do, before making a non-emergency decision, is to carefully evaluate the action and it's results. There is a word for this, and that word is discernment.


    Welcome to Thrifty Living Today. A special way of life for the Twenty-first Century. 


    My name is Lori Blatzheim and I am your host.



    Discernment, a funny word, isn't it? What does it mean? I looked this one up in an online and in a printed dictionary and found quite a lot written. 


    The Merriam-Webster Dictionary described it as the power to:

    • see what is not evident to the average mind
    • accurately distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent
    • search with a mind that goes beyond what is obvious or superficial
    • use keen practical judgment 


    'Sort of testing the water before jumping in.


    Discernment can be a decision you make. For example, saving money so you have an emergency fund when you have an unpredicted need.


    It may relate to the career you want to follow, the school you plan to attend, or the place you want to live. It may result in the people you choose for friends or the one person you choose for life.


    Why do some people spend time analyzing a decision before taking it?


    • They want to do it right, they don't want to make a mistake.
    • They have limited resources.
    • They want to make the best use of their time.
    • They have a spouse or partner, children, work, or other responsibilities that may be impacted.


    Can you learn discernment?


    We all have a different history, different experiences, different beliefs.


    Instead of saying no! Your parents may have told you what could happen if you ran into the street without looking.


    When they took you to a grocery store, the two of you may have looked over fruit to see which piece looked best. You checked it for the yellow banana with the fewest spots, or the orange that was heaviest for size.


    These are examples of discernment. 


    Has experience taught you?


    After problems with an engine on a car, have you decided to have your oil changed more frequently? Have you determined  what to wear for a certain occasion or where not to go on your next vacation?


    What are your resources?


    Can you really afford to send your child to the college of your dreams? Sometimes this is a very difficult decision to make. But, thinking may lead to a choice that will work, that will not "break the bank," that will teach you and the child to do what you can with what you have.


    Does it require discussion with others?


    In some situations, I think so. You gain insight. People do not like it when they are excluded from choices that will affect them. A major change, such as a move can alter their lives, as well as your own. Offer your family, relatives, and friends a chance to give their thoughts and suggestions.   


    In the end, the decision is yours. I encourage you to think carefully before deciding on a plan. You may reap benefits you didn't expect. 


    Lori Blatzheim is a wife, mother, nurse, writer, and thrift advocate. She knows that use of Thrift can help people because she has experienced the benefits. 

  • Department Store Shopping: Take Time to Think

    You are at a department store. Everything has a reduced price. You walk around and see clothes that might look good on you. You go through a stack of shirts on shelves or racks and start pulling out the ones that seem promising. Stop! What are you doing? Are you going to buy all the items? Do you really need them all? If you had a stack of twenty dollar bills would you give them away in exchange for the shirts?   

    Welcome to Thrifty Living Today. A special way of life for the Twenty-first Century. 


    My name is Lori Blatzheim and I am your host.


    One of the hallmarks of Thrift is to think before spending, to determine what you really need, not what you suddenly want.


    Does this sound boring to you? Do you really have time to consider what you are doing with your money? In my opinion, you do.


    Before you Shop 


    The journey starts before you ever leave home. How long does it take you to scan  your closet, to get an idea of the colors of slacks or pants you own, to count the number of short or long sleeved shirts you already have? Do you know what looks good on you?   


    You need to be armed with this information before you set foot in a department store.  

    Otherwise you can be overwhelmed by all that is there.


    Department stores offer more than just piles of shirts. There are filled with distractions which may impact your shopping while moving along. Seasonal displays can influence your thinking. Crowds or lines at the cashier make a difference. Stores can (and do) set up racks and shelves so that you see more merchandise as you amble along.   


    Shopping with purpose


    Why are you at the store? Who will receive the purchase, you, your spouse or partner, a friend, a child? You want to shop with ideas in mind. Bring a list. If your goal is clothing, include sizes if possible. 


    Bring cash instead of a credit card. This results in an unavoidable budget which will help reign in your spending.You will be farther ahead if you know the size, color, pattern, style and maker you want.


    When is a sale really a sale?


    One of the department stores in our area uses a lot of gimmicks in advertising. We have "the sale of the month, the season, the year." Then there is the "sale to end all sales,"  and the "back to school sale."  During major holidays there are special sales where prices are reduced at a certain blocks of time. For example from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM or from 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  


    We do see coupons in the newspaper. There may be offers of "$10 off out of $25, $40, or $50 dollars."


    There is a "Senior percentage off sale." This usually happens on Wednesdays.


    Last but probably not least there are the cashier options. The cashier offers the customer a reduction in price if they (1) open a credit card account, (2) take a card with a hidden "percentage off" scratch off number. To get the benefit they must pay with that department store credit card. 


    I have discovered a way to get around this choice. I pay for the item with my credit card for that store and then immediately pay the cashier a check to cover the price of what I just bought. This allows me to pay before I forget the price and before I build up any interest on the credit card.


    Let's discuss quality


    You are at a department store sale and have the opportunity to purchase items at a sale price. Remember..........you don't have to buy anything! 


    Before strolling to the cashier, take a look at what you have selected, a really good look. Will it work for you, or the person who receives it? Will it last through multiple washings or cleanings? Did you shop with cash or purpose in mind?


    If you later find it is not you wanted, you have lost the "shopping game." You have done the retailer a favor but at your expense.


    There is nothing wrong with arriving home empty handed. In fact, it proves that you are a person who thinks carefully and shops for value.


    Lori Blatzheim is a wife, mother, nurse, writer, and thrift advocate. She knows that use of Thrift can help people because she has experienced the benefits. 

  • Resolutions for the New Year: are they helpful?

    Recently, I tried to determine the difference between a resolution and a goal. Wondering whether they were different, or pieces of a greater concept, I decided to look them up in a dictionary and to find out what comes first.

    Welcome to Thrifty Living Today. A special way of life for the Twenty-first Century. 

    My name is Lori Blatzheim and I am your host.
    After reading the definitions, I have decided that they are shades apart, but both important parts of the whole.
    Goal: You can't do something, make a change, improve your lot in life, if you don't know what you want. That is where the goal comes into the picture.
    Resolution: This happens when you find yourself determined to do something about the goal you have identified. It defines and explains what you want, how you are going to do it, and when you want to have it done.
    What is your goal?
    Find a quiet space in your life. Think about where you are. Then think about where you would like to be in the future.  What are your aims, ambitions, dreams? Maybe you have an idea that could be successful?
    Think carefully. What is it that you really want?
    Why do you want to do it?
    Do you want to make the world a better place? Do you need a better income? Is there something you want to know more about? Would you like to travel and see the world?
    This is entirely up to you. No one else on the planet owns your thoughts. 
    Where do you want to do it?
    Can you do it in your daily life? Does it require lots of reading, or a special workshop?
    Where are you in time and space? Do you have the resources, stamina, and talent to complete the process?
    Are there others to consider, spouse or partner, children, parents, siblings? Is your goal and resolution compatible with their lives?
    When do you want it to happen?
    Does it take a day, month, year or more to complete? Can you set a date and mark it on a calendar? Will you hold yourself accountable to put together a program, start the activities required, and see results by the time you listed?
    If you choose a goal and resolution that has to do with earning, saving money or increasing resources, consider Thrift.
    Thrift is a philosophy, a way of life. People who practice Thrift try to evaluate their resources and what they can do with them. They are also goal driven. They know what they need and also what they want. With this information in hand, they stage the steps it will take to obtain reach their goals.
    This can take time and patience. Rather than buying everything at once, they try and put together a plan or prototype and then test it. If it works, great! If not, they will rework their ideas and try again.
    I enjoy the thoughts of Henry Ford. Here is one:
    Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement. Henry Ford (from Brainy Quote)
    Sometimes we have goals that do not work for us. It is disappointing but we can learn from what we have done successfully and what has not gone well. If this happens to you, don't be discouraged.
    Consider picking a goal and making a resolution to reach that goal. Stick it on a piece of paper and place it in a visible space where you will see it as you pass. If you are brave, share it with others. If you are a private person, keep it in your mind.
    At the end of the time selected you will reach one of two outcomes. You will either meet your goal or you will learn that you will have to try another direction. Either way you will reap knowledge and you can start out more confidently next time.
    Lori Blatzheim is a wife, mother, nurse, writer, and thrift advocate. She knows that use of Thrift can help people because she has experienced the benefits
  • Gifts

     I am in the habit of looking not so much to the nature of a gift as to the spirit in which it is offered. Robert Louis Stevenson

    Welcome to Thrifty Living Today. A special way of life for the Twenty-first Century. 


    My name is Lori Blatzheim and I am your host.


    By now, many of you have probably purchased gifts for family and friends. I am still in the process. I thought I would sit down and take a few minutes to think and write about what I am doing and why.


    Why do we give gifts at major holidays?


    We give because we want to. Teaching, tradition, or family values have taught us to do this .Major religions celebrate historic events. For example Christianity celebrates the visit of the Wise Men, to the infant Jesus. Chanukah offers opportunities for those of the Jewish faith. The practice of Kwanzaa may also prompt gift giving. I know there are people, of other faiths, cultures and traditions, who give gifts at this time of year. I  honor you for your actions


    Who do we give to?


    This is totally up to you. Over time you will develop relationships, patterns, spontaneous  decisions, for whom you will give a gift.


    When I was a child, I was a part of a large Norwegian-American family. There could be up to 14 cousins present at our annual Christmas party. They were joined by their parents and my grandparents.


    Being thrifty and still wanting to celebrate, members of our family developed a gift exchange. Every Fall, there was the drawing of names. Adults drew slips of paper from the "grown-up" jar and children (or their parents) drew names of other children. My grandparents did not participate as everyone, traditionally, gave them a small gift.


    There was a strict maximum cost rule. Gifts could not exceed a specific price. Part of the game was to see what could be created or purchased by this allotted amount of money. In the end, everyone received a gift and everyone saw the ingenuity of their relatives.


    As time passed, I lost my older relatives and many of their children moved to spots all over the USA. But, the some of the traditions remain.


    Does memory play a part?


    Absolutely! I think many people keep giving. 


    On a past occasion, one of their friends or family has given them a gift and they have returned the favor. A practice has resulted where every year a gift is chosen and exchanged.  


    People feel that giving gifts, or receiving a present is absolutely mandatory at that time of year. "It wouldn't be ...............(insert your favorite Holiday) without presents!"


    What is a gift?


    Among other things, Dictionary.com defines a gift as something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion. Or, something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned. How does that sound to you?


    To me it sounds like something of value is given, by one person to another. Notice, it doesn't mention that the gift has to be purchased.


    This year, just to ease my curiosity, I decided to weigh the Minneapolis Star-Tribune newspaper I received on Thanksgiving Day, the day preceding "Black Friday.". It was very heavy. I rolled it up in a rubber band (the only way I could balance it on my kitchen scale). The entire newspaper weighed 4 1/2 pounds. Then I removed every  newspaper ad. I placed a rubber band around these, and weighed this. The ads came to a total of 3 pounds.


    I sat in disbelief, considering the money it took for businesses in the area to fund these advertisements. I wondered whether people were going to spend enough money over the next month for the stores, shops, restaurants, and others to  "break even."


    This led me to the question, does a gift need to be purchased? The answer is No. 


    Where do we find gifts?


    There are a lot of opportunities out there. Consider what you would want. Then think about what you might want if you were a man, woman, boy, or girl of a certain age. What might you want at that age?


    You can probably come up with many more items than I can. I know that it is not only clothes, equipment, jewelry, or a tangible item that is selected. It can also be service, entertainment, or even a favor.


    How do you find out what someone wants?


    When my children were young, I gave them each a paper and pencil and asked them to write down what they wanted for Christmas, everything they wanted. Then I asked them to place a star in front of every item for those things they really wanted. Then I asked them to circle an item they absolutely had to have.


    This strategy actually worked pretty well. Of course there was never a year when we didn't buy them the item in the "absolutely had to have" list.


    Do gifts have to be new?


    I don't think so. Over the years, I have picked up many items at Estate, Yard, and Rummage Sales. They are historic and lovely and I think some people would really appreciate them.


    We are all so used to buying at retail stores that, somehow, gifting someone with a previously owned item seems out of place. 


    Ask yourself, is it more appropriate to give someone a gift of something that anyone can buy or an item that is a piece of yourself?


    Do they have to be wrapped?


    There are lots of thoughts out there. Some will consider using comic strip newsprint, others will buy towels, scarves, and other flat items to wrap the packages. They might string them with a tie, belt, or shoelaces, or just place pinecones on top of a package. 


    Being creative can be a lot of fun. You can demonstrate your ingenuity.


    For those who want to keep up tradition, do whatever is right for you


    In the end, is it the giver or the person who receives the gift? Who enjoys it more?


    This is for you to decide. This is a special time. Try to enjoy it and appreciate it. If possible, make it a privilege, not a chore. Some day it will no longer be possible for one of you. The other will live with the memory.  


    Lori Blatzheim is a wife, mother, nurse, writer, and thrift advocate. She knows that use of Thrift can help people because she has experienced the benefi

  • Thrift Was Then and Thrift is Now: But It Has Really Changed

    Welcome to Thrifty Living Today. A special way of life for the Twenty-first Century. 

    My name is Lori Blatzheim and I am your host.

    I was raised in a Thrift centered family. We were carefully taught to save a portion of the money we received, consider our needs rather than our wants, think before spending, fix what was reparable, and graciously accept hand-me-down clothes, toys, and equipment, especially bicycles.


    As children, we were not allowed to speak about saving and finding food and clothing for less money. People just didn't discuss this in polite conversation. My parents never mentioned the words Thrift, or Frugality. In family conversation, we spoke of being "conservative."


    There were a few options available for spending less on groceries and clothing. My mother used what coupons she found for our local food store. She also waited for sales prior to buying at the "big box" department stores. Her first thought before buying anything was "do we need it?"


    We had a content and comfortable life. Perhaps because there was always money in the bank for emergencies and for special family events and  travel.


    Fast Forward to 2011-2012


    The major ideals of Thrift have stayed the same. But, today there are many more ways to learn about it and to practice it.


    Some examples for buying new, today, may include:


    • shopping for better brands at a lower price
    • studying online bargains 
    • clipping rebate and reward coupons  
    • searching for quality at a lower price
    • accepting house rather than signature brands when the quality is similar


    Well known brands at a lower price


    It is sometimes possible to buy highly advertised quality brands at a lower price. Sales do exist. Sometimes the item is seasonal or holiday related. The retailer may be  impatient or may not have room in the store.


    People need to be informed, to really read newspaper and online ads and to buy at the time the item is advertised.


    On-line bargains


    If you can think of it, you can probably find a place to purchase it online. I am constantly astonished by the merchandise appearing on the Internet.


    Issues present in online shopping are:


    • We cannot see, hold, or try on something which appears on a screen.
    • We need to find out  "who pays for shipping?"
    • We need to determine can the item be returned and how soon do we need to send it back.


    Rebate and Reward Coupons


    Most of the large "big box" department stores we frequent have offered coupons, with a reward, during this holiday season. For example, two retailers offered a $10.00 off merchandise coupon when a $25.00 purchase was made.


    Other stores made a point of providing information about rebate coupons on merchandise offered. 


    Quality at a Low Price 


    By the time many children reach the age where brand names are important, they begin to beg for clothing made by a favorite maker. Sometimes, it is the design or color they want.


    When my daughter was in high school there was a very popular designer producing jeans. They were very expensive and "all the girls at school were wearing them." She spoke of them a lot, to the point that we finally decided to buy her one pair. She found a good fitting pair, I bought them, and she proceeded to wear them non-stop.


    Did they change her life? Did she continue to beg for other clothing items? No. Our family learned a lesson. It is not the jeans that make the girl, it is the girl that makes the jeans.   


    House, Not Signature Brands


    I can't claim that we always select the house brand of the particular store.


    When we go to a department store to buy clothes, we spend time really examining the items for sale. We ask ourselves questions. Do they fit? Does the color and style work for the person? Does it have special features such as a stretchable waist band? How about the fabric, is it washable? If so will it last through multiple washings? Is the stitching intact? And finally, is the price right? 


    When shopping at a grocery store we are now confronted with a variety of house brands. I have to admit, we hesitate to buy these.


    Recently, I have been experimenting and trying the store brand items to see whether they have the same taste and quality. If they do, I'll check the price on both the original and on the store brand. Then I will buy whatever seems best. 


    Lori Blatzheim is a wife, mother, nurse, writer, and thrift advocate. She knows that use of Thrift can help people because she has experienced the benefits. 

  • Volunteerism: Why It is So Important


    I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.

        Albert Schweitzer 



    Welcome to Thrifty Living Today. A special way of life for the Twenty-first Century. 


    My name is Lori Blatzheim and I am your host.


    The late afternoon sky was gradually growing darker. I looked out the window at soft new mounds of white snow. It had been falling since that morning and was now knee high. I wondered how I would shovel it clear enough to get the car out of the garage.


    My husband was in California, two thousand miles away from this Minnesota suburb.  We had moved back here to start a new life. Having recently come from  the warmth of the sunny Southwest, I was trying to adjust to a different place, with a climate that required flexibility and patience.


    Gazing out the window, I suddenly heard the noise of a snow blower. It seemed to be coming closer. All of a sudden I saw two figures, a man and a school age child. The tall person positioned his son in a place away from the machine he was using and began blowing snow off the driveway and walkway to our front door.


    I was astonished, stunned, that a person I had never met, was out in the cold. He was Volunteering  help for a new neighbor. No one asked him to do this. He did it on his own. At that moment I could not imagine a nicer gift.


    Why did he do it? For that matter, why would anyone do it for a stranger? And, why did he want to include a child in the process?


    Later, after they had left, I baked a pan of brownies and walked over to his house. On meeting and thanking him, we spoke. He explained that he wanted to show his son what it meant to help someone.


    Volunteerism One Definition


    I have always been interested in Volunteerism. I think there are a lot of applications. Some of us want to serve as a Volunteer by helping others in a simple way. Others are attracted to working through an organized program. People have tried to define the word Volunteer. Here is one example.


    Volunteer, noun – from the perspective of the doerSomeone who gives time, effort and talent to a need or cause without profiting monetarily.

    From the Energize Web site. http://www.energizeinc.com/art/adef.html


    Some of the best experiences of my life have been volunteering. Here are a few examples: 

    • decorating floats for the New Year’s Day Rose Parade in Pasadena California
    • guiding visitors at the Huntington: Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in California
    • serving refreshments for the 91st PGA Golf Tournament


    During all three of the above activities, I learned a lot. I learned to appreciate the construction and design of Rose Parade Floats. I was given classes in Art, a subject I truly enjoy, while preparing to be a guide for the Huntington. And, I donated money I earned, as a volunteer employee of the refreshment stand at the PGA golf tournament, to Children’s Hospital of Minnesota.


    I encourage you to learn more about Volunteering and to consider participating. There are a great many benefits.


    I have included information from several different sources. If interested, click on the sites listed below:


    Web pages describing volunteerism and volunteering:










    Volunteering can be an exciting, growing, enjoyable experience. It is truly gratifying to serve a cause, practice one's ideals, work with people, solve problems, see benefits, and know one had a hand in them.


        Harriet Naylor



    Lori Blatzheim is a wife, mother, nurse, writer, and thrift advocate. She knows that use of Thrift can help people because she has experienced the benefits

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