Monday, September 21, 2009

It's Finally Here!

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
- George Eliot

Happy first day of Autumn! Here's hoping that you and yours have a wonderful season filled with colorful leaves, golden sunsets, chilly mornings, plump pumpkins, and evenings spent around a warm, cozy fireplace. Enjoy!

Accomplishing a lot...

while doing very little. I’m not sure that’s exactly what I mean, but I hate the phrase ‘Killing two birds with one stone.” It seems so … Neanderthal.


I had an interesting thought yesterday while I was at the grocery store. It occurred to me with just this one task – grocery shopping – I was actually accomplishing several frugal things at one time. Here’s what I came up with:

~ In finishing up our unpacking over the weekend, we had three small boxes that were tagged for the Goodwill. This particular grocery store has a Goodwill drop-off truck in the parking lot, so before I went into the store, I was able to donate these three boxes.

~ I used coupons I had at home for several items on my grocery list.

~ One of the items I bought had a coupon attached to it so I was able to utilize that coupon, too.

~ The simple act of grocery shopping in and of itself saves us money. True, you have to spend money to purchase the groceries, but once purchased, we have all of the ingredients we will need for a week’s worth (more, really) of meals and snacks. That means that by using the ingredients we purchased at the grocery store, we can prepare our meals at home and save the expense of having to go out. Kevin and I are both very good about brown-bagging our lunches and snacks. In fact, we much prefer taking out own over going out to eat every day.

~ This particular grocery store – Ralph’s – has a rewards program that actually pays you to shop; you earn rewards points just by purchasing your groceries. Four times per year we’re mailed Rewards coupons that can be used just like cash for grocery purchases. Sweet!

~ We bring our own canvas bags to bag our groceries; we receive rewards points for doing so.

~ On the back of the grocery receipt there are coupons for the Fantastic Sam’s both Kevin and I use. The coupons reduce the cost of an adult haircut from $15.95 to just $12.95.

Wow! That's a lot of frugal mileage from just one simple task. If only everything was this easy!

Frugal = Fun!

Now that we’re into the swing of our new routine, it’s time to return to our frugal mindset.

Over the last few years especially, we've both become 'gazelle intense' frugalistas. We really enjoy saving our money and watching our bank account grow. As an added benefit, we've discovered that we really enjoy scouting out the best deals and finding little ways to spend as little as we can for our everyday needs. We make a game of it and honestly, it's FUN!

Then ... we had to move. As you all know, moving is horribly expensive. Between rent & deposits, moving expenses, paint, hardware, service transfer fees (for electricity, gas and the like), and meals eaten out because you're just too darn tired to cook ... well, all of those things add up. Quickly!

Though we’ve bought some new things for the house, we’ve done pretty well re-purposing what we have instead of buying new. Our cute new dinette set was a gift from Mom & Dad (thanks Mom & Dad – we love it!), and we did buy a new rug for the kitchen and one for the dining room. And we did have one major splurge: we just purchased a ventless fireplace! It will arrive in about two weeks and it’s the final piece we need to make our home the coziest. Other than that, we've done pretty well at re-thinking what we have and making small changes - where an item is positioned, perhaps, or giving it a fresh coat of paint.

Another discovery in getting all of our things put away is that I have enough craft supplies to last for a very, very long time! I've promised Kevin that I won't even consider buying anything in this realm. For any craft project that comes along, I will find something from my stash that fits the bill instead of running out to buy anything. Really ... I will!

With all of those things in mind, both Kevin and I have renewed our committment to frugality. We will help keep each other honest and on track about what we spend. To support this effort, I'll be sharing our thoughts, ideas, tips and success stories along the way. If you'd like to join us in our effort, please feel free to share your tips and ideas -- or as a one of our staff members at work always says: Each one, Teach one. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 11, 2009

In Our Hearts and Prayers


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Life is a Series of Hellos and Goodbyes...

Well it's finally over. We both knew it would be some day, but we didn't think it would happen the way it did.

Yesterday Kevin and I took the last load of our belongings from the old house. It may sound funny - especially considering how much we love our new house - but we were both really shook when we left. For as many problems as we had with the house (or more accurately, the landlord), that house was still very special to us.

It's hard to explain it exactly, but we both feel that houses have spirits. Not in the ghoulish sense - though we know that we had a ghost at the old house, but rather in an all-around nurturing sense. For instance, the house we used to live in was old; it was built in 1905 and had seen it's share of lives lived within it's walls. By the time I moved in, 15 years ago, the house was in need of a number of repairs. It wasn't falling down by any means, but it was definitely in need of long overdue maintenance. Right from the start I mentioned a number of things to the landlord, but he either refused to do them, or did them as rock-bottom cheaply as possible. As a result, the house continued to fall into disrepair, but a funny thing happened: the more it needed repair, the more I loved it. That continued when Kevin and I got together. We both put a lot of love and sweat equity into that house and really made it a warm, loving home. The more we loved it, the more beautiful it became. It was almost as if, with each stroke of a paint brush, or each time the soil was worked, our home could feel the love and nurturing we were putting into it, and it returned to back to us twofold.

...until the first of July. On that particular day, a realtor knocked on our door and told us the house - our home - was now bank-owned and we had to find a new place to live. Almost immediately the repairs that had been so dire before, but that had waned a bit for the time being, came surging to the forefront. It was as if it could feel the love draining from it's walls. Kevin and I were there less and less as we searched for a new home. Once we found a new home and began packing up the old, it was clearly evident that this house - the one we'd laughed in and loved in for our entire history together - was losing it's spirit. It became a place of sadness; it no longer felt loved.

And so it was that before we walked out the door of our old home yesterday for the very last time, we stood in the very spot we stood in just over nine years ago and kissed as we had then for the first time. For the last time. We talked about all of the wonderful family gatherings we'd had there; the friends we'd entertained; the hopes and fears and dreams we'd shared there. And we smiled. And then we cried. We held each other tight for a long time and then, for the last time, we bid our home a fond and loving farewell.

It's anyone's guess what will happen to the house. It may be sold or it may be so far gone that it has to be torn down - it's hard to say. What I can say is that it will always hold a very special place in our hearts.

One last thing. I mentioned earlier in this post that we knew we had a ghost at the old house. I first felt it a few months after I moved in 15 years ago. Little things would happen: blinds would fly up and spin on their own; a bottle of wine would slip from it's place and crash to the ground leaving it's contents all over the floor for me to clean up (red wine, of course, when I had on white pants); my dog Hobbes would stand outside the bedroom and growl at something - or someone - but there was no one there. At first it was a bit unnerving, but as time went on, I came to believe that this ghost was a friendly one. Like a young person who was playing practical jokes to see what I would do. We became friends, that ghost and I. There were many times when I was on my own before Kevin and I got together that the ghost comforted me and made me feel safe in that house all by myself. When Kevin moved in, I told him about the ghost. At first I think he thought I was a bit crazy. But then, little by little, things would happen - just little things - and he could feel it, too. We both felt comforted by this friendly spirit and would even call out greetings to it from time to time. I know it sounds a bit nutty, but ... it's one of those things you'd have to experience yourself to know what I mean. Anyway ... the first day we were up at the new house painting, I rang the doorbell to see what it sounded like. I rang it about 10 times, but nothing happened. Ah well, the doorbell doesn't work - that's okay, no big deal. About two hours later, Kevin and I were in the kitchen ... and the doorbell chime sounded - but just once. We both looked at each other and smiled; we knew our ghost had followed us. We're glad to welcome it home ... just as it did for us for 15 (and nine) wonderful years.

Dining Alfresco

Slippers has been loving our new home! So often you hear about pets having a difficult time adjusting when there's a move, but she's really settled right in and is loving her new neighborhood. Of course, it probably helped that while we were painting for the two weeks before we moved in, we brought her with us. She had the chance to sniff and explore so that when we actually moved in, she really felt right at home.

How comfortable is she? She's been enjoying her dessert alfresco. Last night and tonight we gave her a bit of ice cream in a small tupperware container; we do this often, so it's nothing new to her. She typically will grab the lip of the container with her teeth and go lay down in a comfy spot to enjoy her treat. Her latest 'comfy' spot is the grass in the front yard.

Yep, definitely Queen of her hill.