February 2012 - Posts - Thrifty Living Today
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Thrifty Living Today

February 2012 - Posts

  • Staying at the Home of Relatives or Friends While on Vacation

    Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. George Burns (Brainy Quote)

    A question is currently being asked on the "Virtual Thrift Club," a Forum that appears on the Dollar Stretcher. The topic is about staying with relatives or friends when on vacation. To visit the Forum, use this address:




    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.


    As a child, our large and frugal family had relatives and friends living in various areas of the USA. It gradually became a family tradition to stay with them when taking a vacation. As a result, we looked forward to staying at their homes. 


    Following our return to California, we also hosted family members or friends when they traveled to the West Coast. It seemed as though those visiting and those hosting enjoyed the time they spent together.


    Why is visiting with relatives or friends a good thing?


    • It is much less expensive than staying at a hotel or motel.
    • Information provided by someone who really knows the community is very helpful.
    • There are opportunities to learn more about them and their family.
    • Children can meet younger family members.
    • Older family members can review status of the family.


    Why can visiting with relatives or friends be a difficult thing?


    • Visitors may have to share a confined space.
    • There may be limited resources including beds, storage, food, bathrooms and play area.
    • Cultural differences, in food or drink provided, may affect others.
    • Schedules which need to be followed may impact the guest's plan. 
    • Wake-up time, nap time, and bed time may not match the habits of guest and host.
    • There may be mild disagreements regarding appropriate indoor temperature.


    What does it take to have a pleasant visit?


    Flexibility is very important. Unless you have a unique set of relatives or friends with a large home, you will find yourself in a setting which won't provide the amenities you will find at home.


    We once hosted a family of seven (friends, not relatives) from England, in our small two bedroom rental home in California. My husband and I kept our bedroom. Our daughter slept in her bedroom next to the English  grandmother. Four children slept on sleeping bags in the living room. And the father, mother and smallest child slept in a camper in our back yard.


    We had one bathroom shower.


    Believe it or not the visit was a success. We came up with a schedule listing shower times, meals, tea, and coffee. We did what we could with what we had. The children spent a lot of time in parks. We went to one major Southern California attraction every other day of their three week stay. 


    In addition, we tried to help them with other issues. We allowed the father to drive one of our cars on quiet streets until he became familiar with sitting on the left side of the car while driving on the right side of the street. When he felt comfortable, he rented a car.


    Note: we are still friends. Members of our family have stayed with them in England and we try to meet with them when they travel to the States.  


    Final thoughts on hosting or visiting others in their home


    Take time to discuss the visit, in advance. The host should describe the interior of the home, and explain any hazards (e.g. an outdoor swimming pool, busy street, dog or cat). If parking is an issue this should be explained.


    Determine the length of the visit. This is helpful to host and visitors.


    Discuss the issue of food and meals. Can the visitors store food? Will they all dine out? How will the bill be paid? Will they "go dutch", pay every other meal? Buy groceries and have home cooked meals? This conversation can be uncomfortable, some hosts hate to bring it up but it is very helpful to know ahead of time.


    Be considerate. Those who are staying together should set up some ground rules. Visitors should observe their children to prevent any damage to the home or objects within. They should return home at a reasonable time in the evening.


    Are guests planning to remain in the home most of the time? Do they have a list of people to see or places to go? It is very helpful to know this at the beginning of the visit.


    Staying in the home of another family is a privilege. It can bring unexpected fun and memories that will become a part of family history. I certainly enjoyed it as a child and continue to practice it today.



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

  • Buying a Home: is it worth it?

    The one major goal most families in the USA have traditionally held is to buy a home. They have worked hard to achieve home ownership.  

    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.

    February, 1996.

    It was Valentines Day. My husband was still working back in California, finishing off work projects and arranging for the placement of our belongings in a moving van. He would be joining me shortly.

    Together, we had made the momentous decision to leave Southern California and move 2000 miles away to the State of Minnesota. As part of the move, we promised each other that we would buy a house.

    I started my new job in Minneapolis and stayed with relatives. My responsibility was to view and visit those homes in our desired area. Few were for sale during the cold snow filled Minnesota winter. Fortunately, a Real Estate Agent/ friend of my cousin and another relative living nearby helped me in this venture.

    We viewed those homes that were available and selected the one that matched our criteria (less than 10 years old, 3 bedrooms, well maintained neighborhood).

    On a sunny February day I presented the signed documents and closed on the house. Standing before the house, I inserted the unfamiliar key, opened the red front door and walked through.

    The house was nine years old and seemed sound. Looking out a window at the pleasant neighborhood, I wondered whether we would be happy here, if the house would prove sound over time, and whether this had been a good decision.

    Immediate findings

    Minnesota prices were lower than those on the West Coast. This house was much larger than the place we had been renting in California. We knew we would have to buy more furniture and supplies. But, we couldn't have known how many items that would turn out to be.

    As the first few months went along we needed equipment to care for the exterior and the interior of the house. We started buying snow equipment including snow shovels, and a snow blower and, eventually, as spring came, a lawn mower.
    Looking around the interior we catelogued needs and made lists for furniture, cleaning supplies, and paint.
    Learning curve
    In terms of money, within months the honeymoon was over. We learned that it took money to equip and care for a home. It would require more time and effort than we had realized.
    We split our responsibilities. My husband took over anything and everything having to do with the home's exterior. He worked very hard using his "do it yourself skills."
    We watched for estate, yard, and rummage sales and dragged home a lot of furniture which needed refinishing. My husband turned out to be a master at that. Gradually the interior began looking like the eclectic home we had planned. 
    We have lived happily in our Minnesota home for the past 16 years.
    We have ridden with the tide, learning  to repair and provide those things that we needed to maintain the home.
    Here are some of the projects we have funded and had replaced the:
    • roof
    • washer and drier
    • furnace and air conditioner
    • hot water heater
    • garage door and opener
    We have also funded:
    • painting of the house
    • trimming of three large trees
    • pulling of stumps for 3 trees lost in storms
    • replacement of 1 tree 
    • tear down of our chimney due to wood rot
    • major repair of the area of the exterior of our home following the chimney tear down  
    Current Plans
    We do have a current list of improvement goals. These include:
    • fireplace replacement
    • new carpet
    • water softener
    • shower repair
    • dishwasher
    • window covering
    • window replacement
    • stove replacement
    I think this is a very long list. We will need to plan the best possible schedule with attention to timing and cost.
    What have we learned?
    There is a great deal more to buying a house than the purchase. Suddenly you find that you have a new and possibly expensive responsibility.
    As in life, we can't anticipate the unexpected. Appliances don't work properly, trees are blown down, exterior paint starts to peel.
    Staging: what is it and why
    We have learned the importance of preparing for home improvement.
    We need to save, in advance, for home maintenance and repair and for any future emergencies
    We must:
    • Establish an emergency fund.
    • List projects to be done.
    • Look for the best possible home repair available in our area. Interview the repair personal and determine their cost.
    • Consider the climate in planning. Some projects cannot be done in winter.
    • Determine whether a repair is an emergency. If, so, break into the Emergency Fund, not a Credit Card.
    • List those projects we can reasonably do ourselves.
    Final thoughts
    Despite the planning, energy and work needed to maintain a home, there are many advantages.
     I have discovered that anticipating and staging repairs can result in a much more pleasant life.

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


  • How Can Thrift be Useful for People About to Retire? How Can it Help Those Who Are Retired?


    Do you have a friend or relative who is getting older? Do you know someone who is retired? Have you ever thought of retiring yourself? Do you plan to work as long as you can? These are issues people consider as they get older. Some day, you will as well. 


    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 largest issues, faced by people today, is how will I support myself in my retirement?


    Some people fee ill equipped to take on the future. I urge you to consider this carefully and to explore what opportunities are out there for you. I am certain that your interest in Thrift will help you. "Dollar Stretcher" has a lot of information on the topic and is a terrific place to start.


    Another issue is what will I do once I retire? How will my life change? Consider this now, even if you are years away from retirement. 


    Join a club, or start one yourself! I have done it and this can be rewarding. For example, I came to the conclusion that a lot of people know nothing about Thrift. So I asked my local library if I could start a Thrift Club. After some discussion about what Thrift is, the Library Staff allowed me space and I started a club where people of all ages attend. It is now the only Thrift Club meeting in the USA! (verified by the Institue for American Values) In a way, I think this is sad. There are a lot of people who might be helped by a place where they can discuss frugal living, ways to save money, buying for less, saving, and where people support the idea.   


    In the mean time, I would like to share some information with you. I have decided to retire myself. Feb. 16, 2012 will be my last day as a clinical nurse. 


    In honor of that I have decided to start a new blog. It is called:




    This will be an interactive blog. I sincerely hope that people will send in their comments, share their experiences and support each other with their thoughts and suggestions. 


    I will continue to write for "Thrifty Living Today,"and for the "Virtual Thrift Club" on "Dollar Stretcher." Note: if you haven't read the "Virtual Thrift Club" give it a try. Scroll all the way down the column that says Forums and look for the topics. Click on one that interests you. 


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

  • Creativity: is it needed for a Thrift Centered Life?


    People who are living a Thrift centered life will be more successful if they approach things in a creative way.


    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.


    People with ingenuity and the ability to think in a different way may try a different approach to get what they want. Some have the ability to form mental images of things that either are not physically present or have not been created by others. Or, they may try a simple solution. If it works, great. If it doesn't, try again. 


    Let's look at a typical wife and mother. She checks her kitchen cupboard and realizes she is missing an ingredient for the dish she is preparing for dinner. She considers what she does have in her cupboard, and substitutes that. She goes on to have dinner with her family without dashing to the grocery store. 


    She has demonstrated resourcefulness and ingenuity.


    Or, how about the family that has other uses for their spendable income. The mother wants a footstool to place by a favorite chair. She grabs the red seat cushion from the chair and puts it in the trunk of her car.


    She drives to a second hand store and buys an inexpensive table of low height. Next, grabbing the red seat cushion from the trunk of the car, she walks into a fabric store and picks up a small uncovered square pillow the size of the table top. She also selects a piece of strong material, the color of the red chair.


    After driving home, she shows her purchases to her creative husband. He takes the pile of pieces, ensures their strength and assembles them. Now this family has a footstool. It cost almost nothing and will provide a place of rest.   


    Would you do this? I did. I am currently sitting in the chair with my feet on the footstool. I admit it is an unusual solution, one that not everyone would take, but it worked for us.


    Why does creativity help?


    The person who follows Thrift will seek the least expensive but best solution possible. He or she is flexible and does not always stick to the status quo.


    He or she might try to save money by:


    • using a tool designed for another task, to help with an associated activity
    • hosting a party or celebration in a park rather than at a more expensive place
    • check personal resources to see if a new item (dress, tool, book etc.) is required
    • find a needed item on sale   


    What is there to be creative about?


    Many things in life can be altered by a creative intervention.


    Thrift centered couples, just starting out, can find furniture that needs a bit of work (a screw, some paint, or slip covers). They can look for pieces that work in their home. In the future they can replace these pieces if they want to but, for the time being, they can furnish a room or apartment together. 


    They may try some do it yourself projects such as renting a carpet shampoo machine and trying it on their carpet. Or, they might try making a simple repair.


    Sometimes people feel hesitant trying to fix something or cooking something new. They may not have done this in the past and now doubt whether they are up to the task. They may worry about what others will say especially if they fail in the attempt.


    Trying something new requires courage, a willingness to try, and the willingness to fail. On the other hand, without trying, a person will never know if he or she can succeed. That person will miss the opportunity for success.


    When is it needed?


    It is impossible to say when an opportunity will present. It is probably better to ask the question "if an opportunity occurs, will you take up the challenge?" For example, if you run out of gas and there is a gasoline station ahead would you go to the station, negotiate with the Attendant for a container, pump some gas into the container, return to the car, and pour it into your car? For some of us that might be a real challenge


    Sometimes the challenge takes longer to consider. For example, what if your family wants to take a long distance trip. Would you drive or fly? Why would you travel that way?


    How is someone creative


    We tend to consider a person creative by the way he or she thinks

    The person uses ability to put two and two together, come up with an organized plan, attempt to fix a problem  and come to a positive conclusion


    Can you learn to be creative?


    Some people believe that you can. If you practice some of the hallmarks of creativity, you may find yourself becoming more confident. You may try new things, new strategies, and work at things in your own special way. 


    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. 



    Below is an addresses for a site discussing creativity. You may want to check it out. 




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