Saturday, September 25, 2010


This has gotten TOOO LOOOONNNNGGG so I broke it in two, which is why I should not write the blogs offline and then try to upload them (which is one way to make the most of my 20hours per month of free dial up service). I write too much when not under time pressure.

Here are a few of Mr. Yeager's suggestions that I already do (hence the whole "mirror" thing mentioned above) and thusly I think they are brilliant (re: mirror):

Fiscal Fasting: Going for specified periods of time spending NO money in any form. He recommends a week at a time and says it's fair to fill up the car before you start if you need to commute to work etc. Otherwise, leave all forms of cash at home. Best to schedule during a week when you don't have bills due or regular payments taken out of an account (thouse count!). I generally do a modified version of seeing how long I can go without spending. Then note what it was the broke me. Often I just really want a candy bar. Sad. For Mr. Yeager's version, keep a little notepad or pencil (or use your cellphone) and note when you break the rules. Don't get bent, just notice. Also notice how much food you have in the cupboards and where the gaps are. Right now I have what seems to be a good balance of beans and grains but may be low on veggies and fruits (other than dehydrated tomatoes).

Spending Autopsies (I may have the first word wrong but I can't be arsed to go through the whole set of 7 CDs and the book (which has no index) to find it). Take one or two months a year and write down EVERY transaction. All money in, remember to include interest, and all money out in every form. It's just a check up for those of us who don't always use a formal budget. I usually start with what seems like a reasonable budget and keep everything in a categorized list in a budget book I bought about 3 years ago (in a thrift store for like 50cents) and see how it goes. If it turns out I'm spending more or less in a category than I think I am, I check out where, why and whatfor. Sometimes it turns out it's because I want to and then I keep doing it. If not, I'm a bit more conscious and try to change. That usually works. I don't track every penny all the time but I did for about 6 months when I was trying to turn my spending habits around. I may have actually bored myself out of shopping.

Frugal Hobby Choices: Choose hobbies that save money or at least don't spend any or at least least cost very little. Hobbies that produce gifts are good. As are hobbie that save money (like learning to do home repairs, fix engines, change oil, biking rather than driving, you get the idea). My hobbies are generally free or cheap and often produce something of value or interest. Canning, dehydrating, cooking, beadwork (must remember to do that more...). there are some associated costs, but they all come up with an interesting product and cooking probably saves me the most. Cooking from scratch saves a bundle. Biking and walking save oodles in driving / gym memberships / healthcare costs.

Cooking from scratch: Duh. Even if you can buy a crap lunch for 2$, you can make one for less. You can make an elaborate lunch for less if you figure in the costs of damage to your health and well being into that 2$ lunch (probably costs 1-2$ in future or current healthcare). How many people do I see (including me) who take supplements to make up for a crap diet? (see "candy bar" above). If you cook in large batches, in a crock pot, from in season/on sale products and with basic ingredients (generally cheaper) you can eat for very little.

Put money in savings all the time: DUH! Of course, I didn't always do this. But, I do now. I like to go online and move money from checking into savings and look at my new totals. If you don't find that fun (admittedly, most won't) automating your payroll deposit to divide into checking and savings may help.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Butt Hurts!

2 Disclaimers:
I wrote this in notepad and pasted it in which always results in wierd hard returns I can't get rid of without trying real hard so live with it.
AND this is a self serving musing. Probably best not to read it at all.

OK, not the best title butt (heh heh) I bet it got your attention. I spent 4 hours yesterday sitting on the floor and getting up and down while
giving presentations to school kids. I'm suspecting that used my gluteous
maximus(which are indeed pretty maximized sizewise right now)muscles more than they were used to of late. So now my butt hurts. Hopefully this will keep me
from sitting on it all day. We'll see.
Today's REAL topic is a book review. And because I'm frugal, it's a two-fer

Both books are by Jeff Yeager. His most recent The Cheapskate Next Door and
his 2008 tome (which I listened to on CD while prepping food to put in the
dehydrator) The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches. I got one from
the Moscow Library (Hi Sally) and one from the Plummer Library through
interlibrary loan. Thus no money was spent in the production of this blogpost.

I love them both. Probably because, like most readers, I like a mirror and
apparently I too am a cheapskate about many things. I prefer the word
"frugal" since "cheap" implies things like ripping people off and tipping
poorly. These books make nice companion pieces to all of Amy Dacyczyn's
Tightwad Gazette publications.

Back to Mr. Yeager. He got popular in the late '00s when he started appearing
on the Today Show suggesting that perhaps folks might want to SAVE MONEY
rather than constantly try to earn more or think of their house as a
retirement fund. His writing is fairly light, like Ms Dacyczyn's, and the
advice is pretty sound.

I like anyone who debunks cliches and trite sayings like "you have to have a
million dollars to retire." Why would I need a million dollars? Even with
travelling over seas most years, I spend less than $20,000 to live, eat
travel, etc. To earn that on 5% annual interest, I only need...just a
second...$400,000. Not much. AND when I'm retired I won't have job expenses,
though probably gardening expenses will go up. My driving will be about 1/3
what it is now so gas savings will probably cover the gardening increase.
With no debt, no interest to pay, and lower taxes due to lower income, I could
be fine with even less per year. Mr. Yeager agrees.

When did spending less than one's takehome pay become passe? I haven't always
managed when I had loads of school debt and a mortgage, but once I
got that all paid down, I've only bought things I had the money for upfront if
at all possible. I did take out that one car loan when the Toyota was
murdered (some say euthanized) by a teen with a cell phone, but even then the
smallest loan possible for a good solid used car and I paid it off in one year
rather than 4 to save interest. I hate paying interest.
According to Mr. Yeager, sometime in the 1980s or 1990s people across the US
stopped saving. They saved about 11% of TAKEHOME PAY (I hear so many people
now talking about gross pay but what use is that? Taxes is taxes, that money
isn't yours so why figure your lifestyle based on it?) and now save 1% or
less. Most people in fact save nothing.

And when did we decide to ALWAYS have home loans? (mortgages, equity, second
mortgages, reverse mortgages) Why not just pay it off and quit paying
interest? Folks always try to explain to me how it's better to have a home
loan and better to keep remodeling your home to have the best resale value. I
say BS. It's better to not pay interest (I do rent but my rent payment is
less than the interest I'd been paying on my 80,000$ house in Iowa so I bank
the difference and now have the cash to buy a modest house or land) and to own
the home outright if possible so you only pay the taxes each year. And
every time you remodel to make the house worth more you raise the value and can
raise the taxes.

It's like when my Toyota was hit with hail and folks said I was stupid to use
the insurance to PAY OFF the loan (I'd only made 4 total payments when it got
hit), that instead I should spend it, and more, to get the hundreds of dents
fixed so my car would have better resale value. This made no sense to me. I
intended to drive the car until it dissolved into a pile of rust or refused to
move or became clearly unsafe, just like the one before it. In high school
our math teacher, real name: Mr. Flickinger, showed us that a used car, even
one needed pretty serious repairs, is always cheaper in the long run (often in
the short run) than a new car and that interest, even if you can take a
PORTION OF THE INTEREST, off your taxes is always a losing game when you're
the one paying it. I believed him. And I've paid a lifetime total (including
the bites that Fred and Sher paid...thanks) on cars of:
6000 + 1900 + 2500 + 800 = $11,200 on cars. Additionally, I've paid less than
1000$ on interest so let's call it $12,200 for 22 years of cars. That is
$554.50 per year on purchase and interest. Or the equivalent of a monthly
payment of $46.21. Not bad! And I still have one of the more reliable cars
on my street. (knock on wood!). Of course that is biased by the street I live
on. I wonder what other folks spend just on car loan interest averaged over
their driving lifespans.

Of course, every month I keep this car on the road, that $46.21 goes down.
The Cheapskate Next Door also told me that the average US citizen in his/her
40s spends 80$/MONTH!!! on clothes. Seriously? Wow. I spent $2.50 last
month on clothes and I got 2 pairs of jeans. They were on half price at a
thrift store. Both Tommy Hilfiger brand and neither showing much wear. I did
spend 80$ getting my shoes resoled, though that might have been in 2009 and 8$
getting some seams redone on those shoes. And I had to buy new bras this year
for a grand total of 38$ including shipping. It's actually been a fairly expensive year clotheswise for me as a few work shirts bit the dust and I got 4
new ones ( to me) for about another 12$ and this is the second round
of pants I've bought. One pair cost 5$ and I actually considered not getting
them until they went on sale. Pretty sure that makes me a cheapskate
Mr. Yeager goes through many other cheapskate/frugal moves. He, unlike some
other frugalers, is pro-dehydrator. I find that I save bunches on food with
mine and that I can buy more local/organic/in-season food when I use it. As
you may or may not know, my old dehydrator died (well, just the heater/fan
bit) and Pam (Hi Pam) got me a new one of the same model off the interwebs
using just the points she had on a credit card of some sort. She also got
herself one and Sher (Hi Sher) is also using it. This is super frugal since I
didn't spend anything and neither did Pam. So far I've dried about 60pounds
of tomatoes in various formats at 80cents per pound for local, organic, in
season tomatoes. I'll have them to eat for the next year or two as they are
in airtight quart jars (pretty well sterilized before use...or at least dry
and clean) and I dry them to crispy. I've also done about 35$ worth of
various hot, extremely hot, and HOLY F--- hot peppers. These and some onions
which I hope to start drying this week, get me through winter with delicious
soups, stews, chilis and rice-n-beans type dishes often made in the crockpot
for even more frugal deliciousness. I spent about 70$ on the first dehydrator 5 or 6 years ago and will soon evaluate how much the electricity to dry things
costs and let you know how much I've saved. I think it's cheaper than canning (especially when people don't give the jars back!).
This is not the world's best book review is it? Still, if you're looking to
live on the cheap and cut expenses so that these fluctuations in the economy
don't effect your lifestyle or quality of life, AND so that you can spend more
time on things you enjoy and less on things you don't, Mr. Yeager is a good
place to start. I'll try to do a separate discussion of Ms. Dacyczyn's books

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tater Harvest Begins

I got into 2 tater buckets. These were planted on April 25th with one tater each. The blue potatoes came up with 18 ounces of tater output. The reds are currently in the lead with 27 ounces. (I hope to be able to use "pounds" for at least one bucket). There are 4 buckets left.
Those still have live vines and I've got it on good authority that the taters are still growing if there are live plants above ground.

Here are a few tomatoes, ontions and one blue potato:

And here is the meal I made out of some blue potatoes, tomatoes, and 2 onions. Other than the seasonings it is entirely from my garden.

I'm actually ON the radio now so I have to post-n-go.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

North Idaho Depression Tours...Next Stop: The Mission

OK, it's been ages but I've been both busy and without much access to the interwebs. Tonight I'm at the Stardust Motel in Wallace, ID which has wifi...though due to the cinderblock walls, I appear to be mooching wifi from a private residence across the street rather than able to get on the motel's service.

I'm here because Jonny (Hi Jonny) is visiting and helping catalog the Cataldo Mission. It's the oldest building in Idaho (1850s) and completely unique in its construction. Also unique: the amount of bat crap we got on our boots when we spent a half day photographing the attic. EEEWWW!

The new blog photo is one Jonny took of me at the radio station. The other peace babes had lives and were not around on the day before labor day so it was just me. I just played music. Mostly classic blues but I did paint myself into a corner with a country segment ending with Dolly Parton's "Potential New Boyfriend".

AND we stopped on the way to the station Sunday to check out some land that should be mine. It's lovely. The house needs work but is livable and there is a well, 10 acres, trees, a creek, quonset building, another building, and possibly a fruit tree along with a large deer-fenced garden area. It MUST be mine...I will be harrassing the owners until they sell to me. Damn them.

AND we did the farmers market. AND we went to part of Paul Bunyan Days in St. Maries. This was all we expected and less. We went for the lawn mower races. Against tradition, these were NOT blindfolded but were for speed. Not nearly as interesting as when they are blindfolded.

Now, I must get back to work. Jonny has taken about 600 photos so far and my photo log is woefully behind.