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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Penny Pinching

Walking the dog this evening, I found (not far from my house) several large sacks of beer bottles set out with the recycling. Of course I didn't leave them there...I brought them home to turn in to the store. There's almost enough to pay for a gallon of milk!

We have been "living on less" for many years now--sometimes out of strong necessity, sometimes out of choice and because of choices. Most of the years the Minou and I have been married we have lived on one income, or pretty darn close. Some years and months I have sourly struggled with it, others have gone full-force with gusto and tried to make saving into a game. And, we are a little inconsistent too--but that goes along with the making choices.

Some of you might have noticed that there are a variety of links in the "Inspiration" sidebar in several general categories. Some are bloggers sharing their creative family living ideas. A few have to do with birth business--doulas or midwives. Several are about my new passion, minimalist living. And others are related to frugal living, a recurrent theme in my life.

Just recently, I took over the family budgeting. I was a late adopter of budgeting, but it has been very helpful in keeping track and figuring out where the dollars are actually going. Now I start the month by subtracting what's budgeted from each category and "hiding" it in Quicken or alloting it to other accounts for future expenses like property taxes or life insurance that aren't paid every month. What's left to see is the food budget. And as I mentioned before, I'm trying to make living on less into a sport this summer.

For me, frugal living affords a level of freedom. I know that we're prepared to face challenges if needed, and it wouldn't be too painful to make deeper cuts if called for because I've already thought about what they would be (CAR!). This penny-pinching lifestyle is allowing Minou to pursue his dream of building up his own business and working from home, spending more time with G1 and G2, and me to work for a non-profit health organization I believe in, even though it pays significantly less than a hospital setting. it possible to carry frugal living and nonconsumerism too far? What do you think?

Which brings me to this question: What do you do (and would you do) to pinch pennies?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Heather,

    Just got back from the store to return my bottles... first time I've done so in many years! Now I feel I've been missing out on an easy-dollar-here, an easy-dollar-there and I have proclaimed to Jenni that I will now be a bottle hoarder moving forward! The other thing I hope we never stop doing to pinch pennies is, of course, growing some of our own food... can't wait until the day we can seek your counsel on proper chicken husbandry.

    As far as taking penny-pinching too far, I can only think of a few individuals who have taken some things to extremes and, in so doing, certainly have threatened the well-being of themselves and others. One of our previous neighbors in Eugene made too many compromises to avoid paying utilities... he mooched his internet and electricity from us through wires across our side yard into his little camper where he resided. Complacent with his spot and hell-bent on hoarding all materials (old newspapers, broken bicycles, even his own excrement for composting), with flattened tires sunk in the mud, he developed pleurisy from being couped up in such a crammed, ill-ventilated and moldy place. Another individual, who I lived with a short time down in Berkeley, heated her apartment by turning on the kitchen's gas stove and leaving its door open throughout the colder nights. You see, the heat in the old place didn't work... meanwhile, the gas bill was being paid by her ex. But the real problem I had with this situation was that, on occasion, her 3yr old would wander the apartment in the middle of the night! So, my short answer to your question would be yes. Sociopaths aside, though, one can not be frugal or careful with their consumerism enough.

    Keep up the great blog and we can't wait to see you this weekend!