Tightening the Belt

Time for some behavioral changes to save a bit more money. For starters I'm going to quit drinking sodas. When my habit cost me $2.50 a week, that was one thing. Now the price of 12 cans has gone up to almost $4. So, I'll be phasing out my soda consumption and bumping up the water intake. Frankly, the soda consumption has been increasing lately and I didn't really like that. The price increase just gives me added incentive to change. I'll have to work on not letting the coffee intake creep up in response to the decreased soda.

(Speaking of coffee, I tried to hang out at Starbucks again this weekend, but the place was jammed full of people. I ended up taking my coffee over to the local bookstore, whereupon I discovered that the local bookstore now has free wi-fi for its rewards club members. I will soon be shifting my Saturday morning hanging out allegiance to the bookstore, which also has a coffee shop and HUGE rice crispy treats, not to mention a plethora of fresh reading materials and comfy chairs with electrical outlet access.)

The grocery shopping will become more limited as well. Time to use up the pantry stores I've been saving for a rainy day. (Frankly, they need to be used and replaced anyway.) The freezer is full of blackberries and veggies. I could probably eat for two weeks with very few new purchases, based on what I've got here now. Time to actually do it, I think. So, this week I'm going to make black bean chili and jalapeno-tomato risotto. Those two items will be supplemented with frozen veggies and canned or fresh fruit at lunchtime.

So, what will this newly saved cash go toward? Nothing in particular at the moment, but I will need to buy tires for my car before too long and there is that birthday trip coming up in January and I still haven't replaced my broken digital camera, plus the upcoming holiday gift shopping and any unexpected surprises along the way. If nothing else, I can toss the extra money into the savings account or retirement fund. I'm mostly changing my behavior to change my behavior toward something more desireable. Saving the cash will be an added bonus.

Decorate Yourself
I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. I always have been. Growing up, I was always grubbing around in the dirt, exploring vacant or wooded lots, hiding in or behind hedges, riding bicycles, hanging from jungle gyms and climbing trees. The knees on my jeans took a beating (and still do). On several occasions, a new pair of jeans would have a blown out knee within just a week or two of purchase due to a spectacular wipeout while running across the playground or falling off my bicycle. The release of reinforced/unrippable knee jeans was fantastic! I distinctly remember having yet another wipeout just a few days after I got my first pair and was immediately worried I'd already wrecked another pair of jeans (my mom was never amused by my clothes-destroying exploits). To my surprise, there was virtually no evidence at all on the jeans that I'd even fallen. I still don't know how the Levi Strauss Company made unrippable-knee jeans. I had thought they just had reinforcement patches inside the leg, but when I looked, I found nothing that distinguished the knee area from the rest of the pant leg inside. Whatever it was they did, it worked splendidly.

Although I no longer rip the knees out of my jeans by falling in the playground, I am still fairly hard on them. I'm still a die-hard Levi's wearer and I look forward to the day when I can once again fit into my beloved button-fly 501s. I own three basic classes of jeans (four if you count the aforementioned 501s): jeans for work/public wearing; jeans for garden/yardwork/automotive repair; jeans for patching material/rags. This is a heirarchical classification system. All jeans start out as work/public jeans. As they wear and/or get stained by mishandled pens, random greasemarks and wayward food products, they become yard/garden jeans. In this category, they become increasingly frayed and develop permanent grass stains on the knees, seat and hems. Eventually the fabric in the seat, thigh and/or knee areas becomes thin enough that it starts to disintegrate, leaving holes. At this point, they enter the rag/patch zone. I use old jeans to patch "current" jeans (yard jeans only), if it can be done neatly and the area needing patching does not exceed the area of my palm. Mending that requires a larger patch than that just isn't worth doing and the jeans are retired.

I keep the patch/rag jeans for not only patch material, but also because i have a rag rug project ijnm the back of my head. I have even purchased yellow and pale green Harrisville cotton rug warp for this project. I stockpile the worn out jeans, thinking I will actually get around to cutting the rag strips and weaving the rug, then, about every three years, I throw the pile out only to start the stockpiling again a few months later.

The point of this rambling is to illustrate my approach to personal attired. My priorities are comfort and function over decoration, trendiness and matching whatever is currently deemed stylish by the editors of fashion magazines. I am nearly always neatly dressed, but I am much more likely to be featured as a "fashion don't" than a "fashion do". My clothing choices tend to be somewhat conservative with respect to cut and fit, but occasionally quirky if I like a particular item a lot or feel it suits me. I also tend to wear my clothes until they wear out and only replace them if/when they do wear out, not because there's a new season approaching or a big sale at the mall.

Reading the latest book put out by Mason-Dixon Knitting, the phrase "decorate yourself" was used to describe one woman's approach to clothing. I could, I auppose look at getting dressed as an opportunity to dress myself, but I just don't look at it that way. I'm more a utilitarian dresser, I guess. I don't see the need to have a dozen pairs of shoes to choose among or a different wardrobe for each of the four seasons. This is not to say that it is wrong or bad for someone else to do that if that is what they want or like to do. It just isn't me. I'd rather spend my hard earned cash elsewhere, like on a trip or on books. I saw an interview once with Suze Orman in which she was asked about her personal spending habits now that she has become rich by giving financial/spending advice. She replied that her spending habits had remained pretty much the same as they had been before she added an extra zero to her income. She has one pair of gold earrings that she wears with everything. She replaces clothing as it needs to be replaced. She does not use shopping as a recreational diversion or a competitive event. I like that. That approach reminds me that wealth, success and happiness are not contained in stuff. They are in me.

Hoarding Thoughts
Having taken another carload of paper to the recycling bin, I have been thinking about my packrat tendencies again, attempting to figure out why I collect things. Part of it is that I do not wish to be caught unprepared or to be missing information at a critical time. I store resources against future periods of scarcity. Of course, sufficiently large stockpiles of resources become inefficient or even unusable. If you cannot locate the resource you need in a timely manner (or at all) and apply it to the situation at hand, you might as well not have it at all. It becomes possible to be paralyzed by the overwhelming amount of stuff and unable to use any of it.

For me, the "hoarding" happens with pantry foods, yarn/fiber/fabric/patterns, books/magazines, website bookmarks, recipes and office supplies. I am good at making plans for using these items "some day", so I save them for that day off in the future. It is hard to pass up or get rid of things that might be useful. This is probably due to identifying far too closely wiht eing a useful object that is passed over or discarded. For items I have used, but have either upgraded or gotten a newer version, it seems somehow disloyal to retire an older functional item for the new shiny. Time to remind myself that it's just stuff and continue the regaining of space.

Early Bedtime
It is barely 8:30pm and I'm just about ready to go to bed. Just an hour ago, I told myself I shouldn't be this tired, but then I recounted just what I've managed to do today. For starters, I woke up at 7am and hopped right into the shower, then started laundry while I ate breakfast and cleaned the kitchen. I vacuumed the house, including a knitting project (more on that at Three Fates Fiber), dismantled and cleaned the vacuum, cleaned both bathrooms, folded all the laundry, cleaned/closed the pool, removed the pool steps and put on the pool cover, cleaned out the garden shed, baked bread, talked to my sister on the phone, put clean sheets on the bed, cooked dinner, laid out my clothes for tomorrow and blogged. I can see why I might be tired. And all of that was accomplished WITHOUT making a single list. It all just flowed together and I did what needed to be done the most at the time I finished the preceding job. I predict I'll be in bed shortly after 9pm and turn the lights out by 9:30.

Quote for the Day:
"We have the Bill of Rights. What we need is a Bill of Responsibilities."
--Bill Maher


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