November 2010 - Posts - Yankee 2.0
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Yankee 2.0

November 2010 - Posts

  • Buy Nothing Day

    The day after Thanksgiving is considered a day to shop like crazy by many people. Other people consider it a great day to buy nothing and reflect on material consumption. "Buy Nothing Day" (BND) was  started many years ago as a way to protest consumption and the consumig society of shopping and debt.

    I usually make a conscious effort not to spend any money or have any business transactions on BND, but I was just reading a web site about BND (the first link) that asked "are you accruing interest on any debts? do you have a mortgage? do you use utilities?" And if answering yes to those questions (I answered yes to all of them), then you are indeed "buying" something all the time. 

    That's a little extreme for me. I'm working to pay off my mortgage and student loans, but I don't see a day when I'm so "off the grid" that I won't have any utilities. I'll do my part by spending the day reading, relaxing, visiting with friends, going for a walk (when it stops raining), and not spending any money or getting caught up in Black Friday Frenzy.

    How about you, DS readers? Will you buy nothing today? Will you kick off a month of shopping? Do you have any rituals or traditions on the day after Thanksgiving (besides eating all those delicious leftovers)?

  • "Free" tag sales -- have you seen these?

    I've seen a bunch of announcements on Freecylce and Craigslist for  "Free" tag sales. People are cleaning out their homes (either to get ready to move or just to de-clutter), and haul the stuff they want to get rid of into their yards, and just give it away. I went to one and got a bunch of Christmas decorations and presents for almost everyone on my Christmas shopping list. This particular one had mostly odds and ends (at least when I arrived), but I've seen many that announce they're giving away everything -- including furniture and clothing.

    Is this a New England phenomenon or are people seeing this in other parts of the country? I wonder if it's related to people losing their homes. The one I went to seemed to be overseen by the folks who had lived in this house, and they didn't seem upset in anyway -- they said they were clearing out to prepare for a move. I wouldn't feel right about taking things that people had been forced to abandon, but was happy to make use of things that might otherwise have been thrown out. 

    I have seen many of these announcements in the past few months (and don't expect to see many more as snow starts to fall). Is this a new trend?

  • Envelope system of budgeting

    I've heard Dave Ramsey and others talk about the "envelope system" of budgeting for years. I think my grandmother also used this method. The idea is that you make an envelope for each of your variable expenses and put the money you're budgeting for that expense in its envelope each month. When the envelope's empty, you can't spend in that catergory until the next month when you refill it.

    Over the past eight years that I've been trying to simultaneously get out of debt, run my own business and renovate my big old VIctorian house (what was I thinking??), I've tried a variety of different things (with a variety of results) in the get out of debt department. One of the things that has worked really well for me has been to take out a weekly allowance from the bank each Friday and spend only that on my variable expenses (this is apart from utilities, mortgage, car insurance, -- things I consider bills). But sometimes, I'll admit, I've had an impulse purchase and gone over my allowance and then taken money out of my bank account for more necessary items. It seems like no big deal at the time, $25 here, $15 there, but it adds up and I sometimes find myself scrambling for money a few months later.

    So this week, I'm going to institute an envelope system for my weekly allowance and see if this helps me stay on track. I'm going to have one envelope for automotive, one for cats and one for the dog. The rest of my allowance will be for groceries, housewares, clothes, and entertainment. I've calculated my normal costs for the car and pets and will put a few extra dollars into their envelopes each week so that when an unplanned expense arises (trip to the vet, tire blow out), I'll hope to have some money in the respective envelopes earmarked for those items. 

    Do any of you in the DS community use an envelope system? What do you like about it? What problems do you face with it?

  • Scavenging and Borrowing for Holiday Decor

     I agreed to put my house on a Holiday Home Tour for a charity I support. I love to decorate for Christmas and have what I consider lots of ornaments and decorations for my one tree. But then I started realizing that some of the houses on the tour are going to be decked to the nines (one has a tree in every room!). I want to give people on the tour their money's worth, but I don't really want to invest very much in additional decorations.

    A couple of friends have offered to lend me decorations for the day (it's only a three hour tour, so it's sort of ridiculous to buy extra stuff for it!).Several have said I can keep what they loan me for the whole holiday season, because they aren't decorating this year, and they're happy to have the things put to use.

    I'm also going to get out in the woods and look for fallen branches that I can spray paint, put in vases and hang ornaments from, and get pine cones and evergreen branches from my own yard to add to the mix.

     This is a great solution for me -- give folks on the tour a good experience while still sticking to my budget. Does anybody else have any budget holiday decor tips?

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