May 2011 - Posts - Yankee 2.0
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Yankee 2.0

May 2011 - Posts

  • One in, one out

    I've read about the "one in, one out" policy in the past. This is where a person (or a household) decides to curb stuff by deciding to get rid of one thing for each new thing that enters the household. This is typically done with something that the person has "issues" with and the person replaces like with like --  clothing, shoes, books, albums, cat figurines -- anything that's threatening to become excessive.

    Whenever I used to think of this concept, it would scare me. That's right -- it would scare me. The idea of having to get rid of material goods in order to get more material goods was terrifying. "What if I'll need something in the future?" I thought. "But I love those new shoes just as much as the old ones -- I want both pairs!" I told myself.

    But just the other day, I needed new sneakers -- really needed them. My eight year old sneaks had a hole in the sole. So I went to a thrift store and got some nearly new ones for ten bucks. I took a little stroll down the skirt aisle and saw a lovely white linen skirt. I'm a big fan of white linen skirts. I thought, "this white linen skirt is nicer than my current white linen skirt. I'll try this one on, and if it fits, then I'll have two white linen skirts, great!" But all of a sudden it struck me -- why would I need two? For absolutely no reason. And then I got it -- I understood the "one in, one out" policy. I have every material thing I could possibly ever need (except a Scooba). I am having a tag sale next week to get rid of excess stuff and I have vowed not to get to the point of having excess stuff again -- so why would I buy another white linen skirt when I already have one? Well, this white linen skirt was newer, nicer and fit great. It cost $4.99. My old white linen skirt probably cost about that when I got it five or six years ago and it shrunk a little such that the lining was showing. So I decided to get the new skirt and promptly put the old skirt and old holey sneaks in a bag to bring to the thrift store (will anyone want holey sneakers?).

    And the "one in, one out" policy has begun and is unidirectional. I can certainly put one out without bringing one in, but when it comes to clothing, shoes, and housewares (not books, which I don't consider consumer goods), when I buy a new one I will put an old one out. And if the thought of having to get rid of something in order to get the new one bothers me, I'll put the new one down and walk away.

  • Transmission failure and gratitude

    My transmission is toast. Luckily, it did not happen on the highway, and I managed to coast it into the shop so I didn't even need a tow. But I do need a new (to me) transmission for my poor car. I'm waiting to hear back today on what my options are. 

    I've been putting money away each week into savings (not enough to pay for the transmission), and working hard on paying down my credit card. The credit card is what's going to wind up paying for the transmission. I'm glad I have the credit available, but would have much preferred not having had to resort to it. So in the meantime, I'm searching high and low for additional part-time jobs that I can take on over the summer so that I can stay on track with my plan of paying off this (my only) credit card by the end of the year. 

    In thinking back to other expensive life experiences of the past ten years (miscalculating taxes and owing the IRS a bundle, a costly but life-saving dog operation [the dog is still alive and thriving seven years on], and a leaking roof come to mind) I see that I used to just put it on a card or open a new loan and not think at all about how long it would take to recoup the loss, or what the interest implications would be, or even what those borrowed money payments would do to my overall daily cash flow.

    But now I have a different approach, thanks to many years of reading books and blogs (like the Dollar Stretcher!), and thinking and praying long and hard about the kind of life I want to have, and considering (lately) each and every expenditure. So now I just (okay, "just") have the one card, and have a very serious plan about paying it off. In the past, I might have said, "Well, since my car broke down and I have to charge it, I might as well charge up a dinner out and treat myself to something so I'll feel better about it." In fact, I probably did say that at some point. Instead, this time I walked home (lucky to have a great car shop near my house) and made dinner from my pantry.

    I am disappointed that I am unable to pay cash for the repair, but I'm so grateful for many things that are helping me cope with this unexpected expense:

     #1 I wasn't hurt or stranded somewhere by this dead transmission

    #2 I do have enough credit available to pay for it, and I have enough cash to rent a car for a week or two if I need to.

    #3 All my other bills (mortgage, food, utilities) are not imperiled by this expense

    #4 I own my car, and this repair will hopefully extend its life, and will certainly cost less than a new car

    #5 I am looking for extra sources of income to help me stay on track with paying for this bill

  • Getting ready for a tag sale

     We're having a neighborhood-wide tag sale in a few weeks. At last year's neighborhood tag sale, I got rid of lots of stuff (including my TV and related accoutrements), and made about $200. I'm working on paring down the "stuff" in my life and am hoping that this will be my last tag sale ever, as I'll never again accumulate unwanted stuff. This might be wishful thinking.

    I've sold a lot of things on ebay and Craigslist since the tag sale and donated other things and given still more away on Freecycle and to friends. I don't miss anything. I haven't once thought, "where is X?" and I honestly can't even remember some of the stuff I've gotten rid of.

    So I'm going through every room in my house and evaluating the things I see. Do I use it on a regular basis? Have I used it in the past twelve months? Does it have sentimental value? If I answer yes to that one, I go back to the other questions -- do I really need a thing to evoke a memory? Can someone else actually make use of this thing that I'm hanging onto and not using? I have plenty of space to store things, but I think the idea of storing stuff for some unspecified time when I *might* need it is no longer an appealing idea.

    Sometimes I think "ugh, I paid $25 for this, I've barely used it, and I'll be lucky if I get 50 cents for it now." But that realization alone is, as they say, priceless. So I'll be gearing up for the next few weeks -- evaluating and pricing, boxing and packing. Whatever doesn't sell will go to a charity and whatever income I get will go towards that pesky credit card bill.

  • Material rewards for thrift?

    Is it a contradiction to reward yourself for reaching thrifty/frugal goals with material goods? I really want a "scooba" -- it's a robotic floor cleaner by the "roomba" folks. It sweeps and mops your floor all by itself. I've been enamored with it ever since I first heard of it a few years ago (when a student I tutor was assigned to write advertising copy for it as a school project). My kitchen floor gets quite dirty with pet food and pets and people coming in and out from the yard. The idea of waking up each morning to a sparkling floor (without my doing any mopping) is very alluring. It costs around $400, which is an expense I cannot justify while in debt (because I'm perfectly capable of mopping my own floor every night, it's just tedious).

    So my plan is to buy one when I have paid off my credit card. I'm not going to buy it with my credit card, but it costs a bit less than what I pay towards paying off my credit card each month (target pay off date is December 2011). So instead of charging it now, while I have plenty of available credit (that's what the old me would have done), I'm going to pay cash for it later, when my credit card is paid off (new me). 

    Is it weird to reward myself for breaking with consumerism with a consumer good? Is it even breaking with consumerism if I buy something? I don't know. How about you, DS readers? Do you reward yourself when you meet a frugal goal? If so, how? Or is reaching the goal reward enough?

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