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Showing posts from January, 2020

TBT: Another Woman's Treasure

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The world is drowning in extra stuff. And some of that stuff is really nice, if you go looking for it in wealthier neighborhoods. Estate sales and higher-end, coordinated garage sales are still great opportunities to replenish a home or wardrobe, especially when you need a lot of things all at once. When I first moved into my house in 2007, I found furniture, clothing, shoes, dishes, linens, and more in the front yards and garages of my wealthier neighbors at the annual spring garage sale.

Not every year since then has been quite as good for shoppers--you can see how the economy affects how much people spend on new things they don't even bother to use. If you need specific items, you may need to try a few different sales to hunt down all your treasures.

"Naked lady parties," or clothing swaps with friends, can be another fun way to try out new fashions (for free!) while cleaning out your own closet. To this day, most of my clothing is second-hand.

And I'm proud to sa…

$Monday: Poop Your Problems Away

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Grandma always said eat your fiber. And now Grandma is in her 90s and still sharp and chic, so I've baked this whole grain banana bread with flax seeds to share for her birthday.


This week's bougie financial advice was inspired by last week's birthday cake binge. I bought a sheet cake for my daughter's party, and the children only ate 2/3 of it. I was happy to take the rest home, because I enjoy having a sweet treat with my morning coffee. For a week after the party, I started each day with a little piece of birthday cake and a latte. Dreamy, right? This proved to be a lesson in what happens when you make a habit (even for just one week) out of a special occasion treat when you're used to a fairly healthy lifestyle and you're over age 35.

Holy poop.

Like Homer Simpson, I refused to stop eating the treat before it was gone, so I soldiered on through a spiraling cycle of indigestion, fatigue, anxiety, lowered productivity, and sleep trouble.

But but but CAKE.

For…

TBT: Destroy your lawn.

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When I first bought my house in 2007, I couldn't wait to tear up the land and start a vegetable garden. I'd never created or maintained a garden before, but that didn't stop me. My grandpa gave me an organic gardening book and some tools handed down from Great-Grandpa, an immigrant who had relied upon sustenance farming to keep his family alive. Although I made a lot of mistakes and encountered unexpected challenges (as always happens when growing a garden), I kept it going for a few years and was able to make some of my daughter's baby food from veggies I grew from seed.

During those years, I grew tomatoes, potatoes, corn, green beans, carrots, herbs, pumpkins, watermelons, sunflowers, squash, and strawberries. I spent hours in the sunshine and fresh air, digging in the soil. It was a lovely way to spend time and energy, and I'm glad I accomplished what I did on a less-than-ideal piece of land and learned the lessons that I did.

When my daughter entered the toddle…

$Monday: I Saved Thousands a Year by Going Electric

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And so did my mom, my uncle, Mr. Money Mustache, the Republican dad of a childhood friend... Swapping one of our cars for an electric vehicle has been one of the best decisions for my daily cost of living. I used to drive old gas-powered junkers that cost me thousands a year in gas, oil changes, engine maintenance, and repairs. Then I took a chance to own a 2011 Nissan Leaf, and it saved my financial life. No matter how cheap gas prices are, they don't come close to driving electric. My car has one of the most elderly batteries you'll find on the road, and I still pay less than a penny a mile. Can you imagine filling your whole gas tank for less than the cost of two gallons? I pay about 50 cents a night to fully charge my battery, and when I visit a place with a free charger, like my local library or mall, I can fill up for FREE in my parking spot.

In addition to saving hundreds-to-thousands on gas per year, I have almost no maintenance costs to own this vehicle. We bought ne…

TBT: Never Drive.

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Obviously I wrote this post before Uber existed. Remember the days before Uber??? I've never used it or any other app service for a driver. It's not better than driving your own car in terms of pollution, safety, health, convenience, or cost. It's just a cheaper version of a taxi. So when I wrote about "not driving" back then, so-called "ride sharing" apps did not exist.

This was also before I got fed up dealing with men harassing me on the bus and the dangers of cycling on unsafe roads. It was definitely the era BC--"before child," when I was willing and able to take higher personal risks to get from one place to another.

I still walk rather than drive whenever I can, including walking my daughter to school every weekday (for the past two and a half years now!), and I love riding my bike to the grocery store with my family, now that we have a safe and beautiful wooded trail connecting us to the market and a kid old enough to ride her own bike…

$Monday: Boots Theory

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Fans of author Terry Pratchett understand the importance of investing in good footwear. Pictured here are my husband's work boots and some of my "work boots" (for the office, heh). In both categories are shoes that are over 15 years old.

In Terry Pratchett's 1993 novel Men at Arms, one of the characters realizes:

The reason that the rich were so rich...was because they managed to spend less money. 
He goes on to explain, "Take boots, for example. ...A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. ...But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would …

TBT: Fast-Forward Fashion

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This blast from the past is funny, because my personal style and shopping habits have evolved quite a bit since my 20s--in fact, full circle to the advice in the first paragraph I wrote, which I went on to reject at the time. In my 20s, I enjoyed extremely silly fashion. I'd look at Vogue magazines and then imitate designer looks in ridiculous ways. I tried to anticipate near-future trends, which I nailed in the first picture here, where I've "put a bird on it" before the meme was born. Yus! ...But.

Now that I am a fully fledged adult with a more relaxed budget, I hardly ever shop for clothes or accessories, not even at thrift shops, where I am now more afraid of picking up bugs. I still have a lot of clothes, but I rely heavily on swaps and hand-me-downs from friends and family. Occasionally I browse garage or church sales in communities I trust to sell clean garments. The world is now drowning in excess clothing, so it's easy to rake in quantities of barely-wor…

$Monday: You can't afford a poor diet.

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Nobody can. You've heard that "it's expensive to be poor." This is the gut-wrenching truth about eating poorly: real food costs a lot less than health care for preventable disease. So if you think you can't afford to eat well, it really means you can't afford to live. And that ain't right! While economic stress has a lot to do with access to healthy food, finding a way to eat well is the only way to avoid more poverty and a (probably shortened) life of suffering. The good news is that eating well is easier than our consumer culture--which feeds like a parasite off of the sick, poor, and tired--has led us to believe.


When I was in college, I had a classmate who nearly died (thereby wasting his college tuition!) when he attempted to save money by eating nothing but instant ramen. It's sort of a cliche or a joke in our culture to do that, because food is one of those expenses we obviously all have, and the grocery store is a place where we seem to have c…

TBT: Eat organic, local, vegan, raw, fresh superfood.

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Happy Throwback Thursday! From now until I get tired of it, I am going to resurrect an old blog post from the 2000s and see how it holds up today.

This one is about my journey as a young adult from sickness to health as I figured out how to feed myself properly. I wrote it in a silly, humorous way, but I think we all know by now that eating well is a matter of life or death. Certainly it determines one's quality of life, and there isn't any way around it. There's no substitute for eating a well-balanced and varied diet in healthy amounts. There's no secret to it that any stupid fad diet will address. Paleo is passe, and keto is krap. Restrictive diets for weight loss should always be temporary and monitored by a healthcare professional. There are no shortcuts or workarounds. There aren't any vitamins or magic supplements that can make up for junk nutrition; in fact, most supplements are just more trash that further degrade health. There are so many scams out there …