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

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