Sunday, November 3, 2013


Making a Penny Scream
 
A year and a half ago, at not-quite-sixty, my husband felt compelled to relocate 1,500 miles to return to work for Lockheed Martin thus turning our marriage into what is called a “commuter marriage.”  The necessity of this decision grew from the fact that we’d made some bad financial decisions that had put us into debt.  Within months we’d recouped the $40,000 of debt; Dave turned 62 and has returned home to Gig Harbor with an eye of my retiring in June.  There was an emotional cost to Dave’s time away so it is important that we honor the sacrifice and not allow our situation to deteriorate again.  Mostly we need to not return to living like middle class Americans.  I know how to live poor.
Having been low income more than half my adult life, I pay attention to folks who claim to have ways of saving money.  Some of my favorite reads have been compilations of a newsletter from the pre-Internet days called the Tightwad Gazette so it was natural that I “liked” the Face Book page Homemade Living Frugally.  After being a wife and/or mom for 42 years I have amassed plenty of tricks for, in the words of my late mother-in-law, “making a penny scream.”  When someone on Homemade Living Frugally posted the question as to how to save money on their food bill I perked up because I have my own opinions.  There were already 354 replies and I did not read but a few, but it set me to thinking about how helpful it would have been 42 years ago to know what I know now at age 62.  By no means am I a professional spendthrift.  That is a fulltime job and I have a job, but as my husband and I retire and our incomes become fixed we will be having more time and less money so am reverting to my single-stay-at-home-mother mentality.
My mother-in-law’s was not the only sage advice that I got early on in my adult life.  My neighbor when my first child was born, who later became my step-mother, told me, “The only part of my budget I really can control is food.”  I took that to heart and to this day it upsets me to have to throw away moldy or expired food.  My first and best advice to save money on food is to shop in your cupboard and refrigerator when planning meals.  Find recipes to use what you have before you run to the store to buy a long list of ingredients for that wonderful recipe you saw on the Food Network.  Save that recipe for a truly special occasion. The result of NOT shopping in your cupboard and freezer is a lot of waste and once again you might as well throw your money in the street. 
This was brought home when our old freezer (which had been my dad and step-mom’s and probably draining money in electricity) died.  That meant salvaging what I could and tossing the rest.  I discovered things that had put in there months and YEARS earlier and was furious at the waste.  We replaced the freezer with a much smaller version and I have become a fanatic about making sure stu ff gets used. 
I loved watching “Extreme Couponing” on TLC.  I have couponed, but not that extremely.  For one thing, as I referred to above, it takes time to dumpster dive for multiple copies of coupons, organize them, and make a battle plan as to which stores have what on sale.  Maybe when I am retired and have more time I will be able to do more in that direction, but I do get online for Fred Meyer and load coupons onto my rewards card and take advantage of their 55 and over days that give a 10% discount on the health and organic items that we use.  That’s another tricky tight rope and another blog.  First Tuesday is this Tuesday so I guess I’d better get busy.

3 comments:

Lorrene said...

I was born into poverty, and it now seems very likely I will die in poverty, bur there were some decent years in there. Now my goal is to not die homeless.

Stephanie Frieze said...

We feel blessed that my mother is in subsidized housing because her SS would never cover her expenses. Her rent actually went down this summer, but something else will probably go up. She never gets ahead, but we're keeping her head above water.

jim courtnier said...

Stephanie...I'm so glad tht I caught your last few posts! You are certainly not alone and we, like so many "barely middle-class folks have made many of the same accommodations that you have. We drive a 14 year old "family car" make a significant portion of our own food, schedule home improvements far ahead, and economize in nearly everything. We are a little older than you and do not feel poor. Frankly we are healthier off for doing these things. So, my only advice is to get ACA coverage and enjoy life to it's fullest!