Thursday, March 12, 2009

money, money, money

So this is yet another post about nothing, just random and strange musings, this time about the almighty dollar. I was watching Oprah this morning as a good little stay-at-home mom does (actually it's the first episode of watched of that show in months and months but she had chefs on and I love those brilliant people!) and she was doing this show on saving money because of the recession (who really needs a reason to save money though? Well, besides Oprah I mean). Enough with the parenthesis already, right? Sorry. Anyway, I always watch those types of money saving shows and read the money saving articles and peruse the money saving books, looking for even more ways to shave the ol' budget. It's just amazing to me though some of the things they come up with. Stop getting takeout five times a week? Are you joking? Make your own coffee instead of buying a $4 latte every morning? Who does that anyway? Do we really need someone to tell us to downsize the house and cars and entertainment? Seriously? It boggles my super-thrift mind. I have yet to actually hear about something that could save me some bucks (except for those coupon cutting ladies who basically get their groceries for free: that still confuses me too much to try). Oops, more paranthesis. I have been cheap, cheap, cheap since I was a kid. Here's are some excerpts from my diary I kept as an eight year old in case you don't believe me:

'Today we went to the bank and I put in $11.17! Now I have $88.17!'

...and 6-14-86
'I am going to buy a colt from Jim and Carolyn for $153! It's a very good buy!'

...and 7-6-86
'I bought my cousin, Cacie, a bear from Ron's Box Store for $3.'

...and 9-23-86
'I got the cutest clip board from BiMart for .88! And a whole bunch of shoes for Barbie for .89!'

I could go on and on, but you get the drift and it's somewhat embarrassing besides.

I am the woman who has a drawer full of used ziplocks that I shake the crumbs out of and save, pieces of aluminum foil that I fold into nice symmetrical squares and reuse, and yup, even the twist ties get a second and third and forty-eleventy life at my house. Lately it's the paper towels. Did you know they are totally not kidding about Brawny?! You really can rinse them and reuse them! I know! This is exciting stuff. Except for those of you who are so bored you're drooling on the computer right now. The only problem is, no one else in my house does this, so I'm chasing kids around yelling, 'Don't throw that away! I can rinse off the egg and spilled juice and snot and we can use that paper towel to wash your face!' For some reason, this does not thrill my kids the way it does me. I had visions and daydreams about never buying another roll of paper towels again. Alas. It was not meant to be, but at least they're bought less often.

I have had a job and a checking account since I was eight. I really did buy that horse. All with my own money and then I fed and sheltered him all with my own money for years. Then I sold him to pay for pointe shoes and tutus. Oh, and that job I had as an eight year old? Some do-gooder turned me into Child Protective Services. For crying out loud. I was seriously annoyed. Laid off before the age of ten. I am obsessed with thrift stores and flea markets and garage sales. If I kept a diary today it would be full of all my good buys and written on Brawny paper towels. I wear shoes from the boy's department because they fit better and are half the price of woman's tennies. Besides the paper towel debacle, I wash plastic forks and spoons and reuse them for years. I drove my sister nuts when I was pregnant because she would bring over plastic table wear so I wouldn't have to wash it and thus save me some work. Then I'd load it all up in my dishwasher and she'd stare at me and say, 'I don't think you get the point...' If it gets cold in my house, I toss everyone a blanket, cuz they're paid for. I am also the woman who will go to three different groceries so I can get the best buys on absolutely everything. Cheese at Safeway, canned foods at WalMart, coffee at Big Lots, clearance produce at King Soopers, etc. Of course I probably use more gas that way, but don't rain on my parade, ok? The vast majority of my clothing is used and when Mike told me he didn't want to wear a shirt I bought him because I bought it used, back when we were dating, I almost broke up with him right then and there. I tell my kids they can have a new pair of jeans when they stop growing or when they get a job, whichever comes first. We smuggle in our own candy and drinks to the $1 theater and although I don't plan on stopping, I do recall Cora being about 5 years old and telling me, 'Don't worry, Mommy, if the theater police ask me why I have this stuff, I'll just tell them I am allergic to their stuff!' Maybe I am turning my kids into desperados, instead of teaching them that money doesn't grow on trees. You mean your children don't have nightmares about being chased by theater police? Oh well, with the cash I save through the years I'll have enough to pay for their therapy.

Lest you think I have it all figured out (what? you weren't thinking that? the drool is getting out of control and you're thinking about that instead?) I don't. We live check to check; such is the life and sacrifice of a stay-at-home mom. Mike is waiting patiently for the day when I pull out my secret brain surgeon degree and yell, "Surprise!" but until then, my love, it's recycled paper goods and dinners called 'goulash.' That's a fancy word for 'whatever's in the crisper drawer mixed with some eggs and a half a box of pasta.' Recipe to follow? No? Your loss.

I know I'm not the only one, people! Let me know how you can rival me in the thrift department!


  1. Hi! I'm here to check out your blog. Love it! I can completey relate to penny pinching! I haven't mad it to my homepage on the homeschool site yet. I'll get to it sometime. Talk to you later.

  2. Oh dear, sweet Melyssa...again I laugh til I cry. I have come to the conclusion that coupon ladies have no life, though I have tried to be one for years. Alas, I still spend more than I should. You are the thriftiest most frugal person I know, and honestly, you put Oprah to shame (not a big fan anyway!). But I'm a fan of need your own show!

  3. MELYSSA! You ARE my grandmother! She always had drawers full of used foil, saran wrap, twist ties, baggies, used butter tubs and rags that had to be from the great depression. Just promise to throw them all out before you die, OK? Do you know how long it took us to clean out grandma's stash of used stuff? Seriously though- I watched the same Oprah because the promo promised feeding a family of four on $5- wasn't impressed, it was all kind of a no-brainer-genesis

  4. I desperately want to become one of those coupon ninjas too, although I can't figure out where they find all those brilliant coupons! One friend-of-a-friend in particular only goes shopping with her husband because the store has a "20 coupons per order" policy. She loads the cart up, sends dear husband through, maxes out the 20 coupons for that order. He takes it to the car, and then comes back in for more groceries and 20 more coupons...! You get the idea. Incredible.
    Much love to you, dear friend!

  5. I totally agree with/relate to every word! Todd won't wear used clothing either and has, alas, banned me from buying any more used undies for any member of the family. I love those new commercials for a meal-in-a-bag where they say, "if you eat this once a week, instead of going out, you'll save $40 a week!" Rather than, "if you eat this instead of pasta and a can of spaghetti sauce, you'll spend an extra $10".

  6. My mom has friends who won't wear anything from a thrift store, because they "don't know where its been." Who cares, that's what detergent and washing machines are for? If it weren't for the thrift store, I'd only have underwear on everyday and THAT would not benefit society at large. :)

  7. This is so funny! I was laughing so hard tears were rolling down my face. We live on a shoestring budget too but you have me beat. I never thought about some of the areas you are thrifty in. I have learn something too. Great job.