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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What Has Our Current Economy Changed?

I came across a post on a blog at Frugal and Thrifty that discussed behaviors that, in the past, had been considered "weird" but now are totally acceptable. Bill Shrink said these behaviors are now seen in a different light:
1. Brown Bagging Leftovers
2. Growing Your Own Food
3. Dumpster Diving
4. Bartering
5. Foraging
6. Garage Sales
7. Bargain Hunting
8. Buying Used Clothes
9. Eating Junk Food (apparently we need more comfort food)
10. Quitting Smoking

I agree with this list! I preferred taking my own lunch to school and I remember when I used to work in an office and I took my own lunch 90% of the time. I hate vending machine food and going out to lunch every day was too expensive and wasted time. I had my lunchbox, cooler and thermos that I used for taking leftovers or sandwiches. There are things that I don't like to eat and if I made my own lunch, I had what I liked. Now, in this economy, more people are taking their own lunches to work and school.

My Dad always had his own garden, fruit trees and chicken coop even when we lived in a subdivision. I love fresh veggies and fruit so I see nothing wrong with having a nice garden in the back yard. Our town is currently discussing whether or not to allow people to own a few chickens with a proper chicken coop. I think it's a good idea. In fact, I have to wonder if I would not only get fresh eggs but wouldn't it also be a green way to take care of bugs in your yard? And instead of planting decorative trees, try nut and fruit trees.

I learned about shopping at yard sales and thrift stores about a dozen years ago. People used to think shopping at those places was only for poor people. It had a negative connotation.  Now, everyone is doing it! And why not? Today I went shopping at a Goodwill and parked beside a Mercedes SUV! It's not just the  poor people, everyone likes getting a bargain! I currently carry a nice Coach leather purse that I got at a yard sale for $5. I washed the lining and used leather cleaner on the leather and it's like brand new. I've carried it for a year now and it's still in perfect condition. If you want a purse that lasts forever I recommend a Coach leather purse. But I wouldn't pay retail for it! My last Coach bag (bought used for $5 at a yard sale) I carried for 3 years. It was still in great condition but I got tired of it so I sold it at my own yard sale for $5. I got my money back! I just bought a pair of Naot shoes still in the original shoebox at the local thrift store. I love that brand. They are so comfortable but they usually sell for $150+ and I got these for $10. I sprayed them full of Lysol and let them sit in the sun to dry but I'm sure they are brand new because there is no dirt or wear on the soles. Buying used is getting so big that I'm disappointed to see some charity thrift stores are starting to overcharge for items. Considering their product is donated to them, I find it hard to understand why they charge the same prices that I would find in a retail store for "antiques" or brand new. But I love a bargain and I'm proud of my thrifty buys. I don't think I've done any dumpster diving but if I saw something I liked or needed and it was being thrown away, I wouldn't see anything wrong in picking it up. That's recycling isn't it?

I would add another thing to the list. Buying used cars. With new cars selling for $20,000-$60,000@  purchasing used cars has a lot of appeal. Let someone else take the first year's depreciation. Although I currently drive a 2010 GMC Hybrid Yukon that we purchased new, we usually buy used cars. A car that is 1-3 years old is a smart buy because it's cheaper yet still has a lot of use in it. It's new enough to have all the extras but you aren't losing those first years of drastic depreciation. We look for a car 1-2 years old with low mileage. And Stan is driving a 10 year old truck. It's been paid for for the last 5 years and repairs are cheaper than buying another truck.

Another thing to add to the list is cheap leisure. Why should we spend a lot of money on vacations and going out when we can enjoy ourselves much cheaper? For instance, why pay $10 per ticket to see a movie when the whole family can sit together and share a movie on your flat screen TV for $5 with pay-on-demand? Why pay airfare for the whole family, hotel and $100/ticket to go to Disneyland when you can do things closer to home and drive. For instance, this year we decided take day trips close by when Stan took vacation time. This way we could enjoy local history and sites. We packed picnic lunches and thermoses of drinks and would go for the day. We were back home by evening and didn't have to pay for hotel, airfare, dog sitters, etc. I asked myself if our home wasn't nice enough to spend time in? I mean, why should I go somewhere else to spend time? My home is cooled/heated, clean, decorated and comfortable. I have everything I need right here. Why go to all the trouble of packing, finding dog sitters, driving hours or paying for airfare to get somewhere and then pay to stay there in a hotel? It's a lot of trouble and expense for a few hours of leisure. At least for now, we are cutting back on travel and leisure expenses. It's not so hard on me physically too. And if I do overdo, I'm at home! Not wasting money lying in a hotel bed until I feel better. There are a lot of things in my town that we can do for free. I can get books at the library, rent movies at the library, use On Demand or NetFlix. There are parks, picnic places, hiking trails, and lots of organized activities you can participate in. For instance, your church usually has activities, the library has weekly activities, local festivals. Even our gym has activities like marathons and free exercise classes. Go to local ball games! It's cheaper to go to a high school football game than driving a couple of hours to college or professional games and paying gosh-awful prices to get in. Make some sandwiches or pick up a box of chicken and eat at the game. I pride myself in making good picnic lunches. Everyone in my family likes my picnics. I bought a nice picnic cooler with accoutrements at a yard sale for $5. We use it often! Another thing we like to do is take an hour or so and go to Barnes & Nobles together. We make a list of the new books that we would like to read and we sip on a hot drink while perusing the magazines. At home, I get on the Internet and put that list of books on hold at the library. They call me when the books are in. I'm careful about keeping up with my books and returning them on time so it doesn't even cost me late fees.

Another thing to add to the list is cutting back on alcohol. If you can quit smoking because it's a habit that is too expensive, then you can cut back on alcohol or cut it out altogether. When you go out to eat, drink water or a cheaper beverage like tea or soft drinks. It's cheaper than the watered downed drinks. Why pay $8 for a drink? When you have people over you don't have to serve alcohol. That's expensive and unnecessary. A successful party is a one that is fun without the alcohol.

Another thing to add is being proactive with your health. It's cheaper to eat right, lose weight, get exercise and take vitamins than it is to pay for illnesses. If you even have medical insurance it's paying less and less of the bills and yet charging more and more in premiums. but healthcare costs are rising rapidly. If my husband will take his high cholesterol medicine he may prevent himself from having the misery and expense of a stroke or heart attack. If he has a stroke his medical insurance would only pay for 80% of his hospital bill AFTER the $1,000 deductible. Let's say that that hospital stay cost $200,000 then we would be responsible for the $1,000 deductible and the other 20% up to the annual max which is $5,000. And if there were expenses that the insurance company refused to consider, we would be responsible for that too. And that's not talking about the time off from work. He has disability ins but it only pays like 60% of his weekly pay and it's hard to start it up. So we are talking thousands of dollars in medical costs and missed income that could be avoided by taking high cholesterol medicine. People are starting to see the correlation and are beginning to be more proactive instead of reactive. Vitamins are big business now, so are gym memberships. Organic and fresh foods are no longer just for hippies and health food nuts.

And, the last thing I would add to the list... riding bicycles, scooters and electric cars. These are cheaper ways to commute and more and more people are using them. Riding a bicycle to work is really the fashion now and scooters and tiny electric or hybrid cars aren't considered weird any more.

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