Thursday, January 29, 2009

Interesting Economic Indicators

I am a big fan of WUOT. NPR is asking their listeners to report unique "economic indicators," such as the newspaper delivery person who reported that his papers come in packs of 50 instead of 40 as before. The papers are smaller due to less advertising content. (Our own News Sentinel had to respond to this in also decreasing news content because they simply could not afford the extra sections.)

I've noted two economic indicators:
1. The big number of new members after the first of the year, due to New Year's resolutions, that typically hits our fitness center never happened.
2. The attendance at business functions where meals were pre-paid some months ago is up.

I'd be curious to know if you have observed any "economic indicators."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What constitute "New Clothes"?

I swore off clothes purchases for 2009. I cannot decide whether socks count. I was talking with someone on Saturday who read my blog, and I asked her that question. She said that anything you don't directly see shouldn't count.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New on the Scene: Turkey Creek Branch of Tennessee State Bank

While some big banks are having their challenges nationally, there's an occasional ray of sunshine locally.

Tennessee State Bank has opened a new branch in Turkey Creek, and they are having an open house this Thursday, January 29, from 4 to 7 p.m. The address is 11470 Parkside Drive Knoxville, TN 37934, and the phone number is (865)288-5040. In the full-page ad in today's newspaper, they promise that "each guest will receive a special gift!"

Additionally, they have a refer-a-friend program. How does Refer-a-Friend Work?
"•When your referred friend opens a new personal checking account** with Tennessee State Bank, you will receive $25.00!

•Tennessee State Bank customers can earn a maximum of $250 during the Refer-a-Friend Promotion!"

Check out their website at

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Time-the Most Precious Commodity

By nature I am not an organized person, so consequently time management is an ongoing challenge; yet I am fascinated by it. If a person is a good time manager, it's going to impact the bottom line. Less time spent on a task, less money spent on a task.

To get me in the right state of mind to start this blog, during the holidays I walked over to the main library and checked out a dvd of the original "Cheaper by the Dozen." According to Turner Classic Movies, the storyline is about "The ever-fastidious Webbs' attempts to keep the household running efficiently (that) drive this nostalgic comedy/drama," starring "Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy as Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, the proud parents of 12 in early 1900s New England." DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH THE STEVE MARTIN MOVIE WITH THE SAME NAME!!!

I remember being fascinated with this 1950's movie as a child. It's some forty-five years later, and I still marveled at the efficiency of their household and how every second of work was calculated to its utmost application. It was funny to see them figure out the way to get dressed the fastest way in the morning, etc. One main and hilarious scene was when the dad arranged for all the children to have their tonsils taken out at the same time, a serious time- and cost-cutting measure. Yet viewing this as an adult I was bothered by a significant point of the story that I had totally missed as a child. I don't want to ruin the story, but the family's outcome was impacted by a disregard of long-term financial planning on behalf of the parents.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spending Less-Feeling Guilty?

There was a blurb on Yahoo about the companies that are probably next to go under, because as we all know. everyone is buying less.

I seem to have a lot of company in my pledge to buy no clothes this year. This report stated that while in previous years only 4 percent said that they would not buy new clothes, this year it's up to a third.

Last year's rebate apparently was squirreled away by most of us. How's the next "economic stimulus" going to play out?

Sure, spending is good to stimulate the economy; but like the saying about all politics being local, all spending should be personal. I'm sticking to my pledge of no clothes in '09.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

KUB Balanced Pay Plan

I just paid my KUB bill. Ugh! It was the second highest that we had had since we moved in this downtown condo. Of course, the highest was 11 months ago. I have not been on balanced pay, so I called today to take advantage of the previous lower months and lock into a regular fixed payment for the next 12 months. KUB's rate increase and the fact that our heating system practically has run constantly for the past five days makes me anticipate that the next one will be a doozy! Yes, that bad boy bill will be averaged into the next 12 months average balance pay, but I live in the present!!! I'll worry about it later!

The same amount that I'll be paying for the next 12 months is 90 percent of what I paid in January. It is likely to be 80 percent of whatever I would be paying in February if I had not gone to the averaged payments. Of course, it'll be 110 percent in March, etc., but our cash flow is better in warmer weather.

Speaking of KUB, please consider helping those who can't pay their bills by adding a dollar or two to your payment every month. This can be automatically billed. Check your bill for information on "Project Help."

Perfume & Gasoline

Check out this class action suit, if you are a fragrance kind-a person:

Also, update on the Pilot at University and Western Avenue: Pilot dropped its price to meet the Food City next door. It's currently 1.55 at both places.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gas War Gone?

I live in the center of Knoxville and routinely pass the Food City at 1950 Western Avenue, which has gasoline, and the Pilot Travel Center right next door at 1826 Western Avenue. Ever since the Food City opened in spring, 2007, the prices of the two stations have jockeyed back and forth almost daily. However, I have noticed that for the past week, the Pilot price has been $1.65 for regular and the Food City has been $1.55. There are always a lot more vehicles at the Pilot than at the Food City.

Perhaps Pilot has realized that it does not have to meet Food City's price to keep its business. They have the convenience-store aspect to drive business. I also understand that many businesses have Pilot charge cards.

Too bad, because I was having fun checking the changing prices out on a daily basis. Of course, my last tank full was "free" because I turned in all my Food City Fuel Bucks before they expired. But my next one will be paid with a Pilot card for which I was the successful bidder at a non-profit benefit auction. Both Food City and Pilot are very community-focused, and we benefit from their support way beyond getting deals at the pump or grocery.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Will Volunteer for Starbucks

According to Starbucks, "Starting January 21, Starbucks will salute everyone who pledges 5 volunteer hours with a free Tall brewed cup of coffee (Click for Details). Working together, we hope to inspire 1 million hours of community service."

Let's all earn our coffee!

In Knoxville if you don't know where to volunteer, I suggest you check the United Way website

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Year's Resolution Temptation

One of my 2009 resolutions was to NOT buy any clothes. So far, so good, but I had my first bout with temptation. I am making this blog posting a public declaration that I am not going to succumb, but I wanted to share this great resource for good shopping:

My daughter linked me to a wonderful site,


Petite Wool Bi-Stretch Julie Flare Leg Pants
Reg: $79.00
Now: $19.99

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tobacco-Paying the Ultimate Price

Eleven years ago my mother died.

I am not sure when she started smoking. She might have picked it up from dad, and they got married in 1940. In the early 60's Dad applied his incredibly honed discipline that framed his successful law practice and his very organized personal life and decided to quit. It stuck. My mother was not so fortunate.

In 1985, a year after my father passed away, my mother decided to quit. It was hard, and it was a wee bit trying to be around her. Then, unfortunately she developed shingles. She decided that this was a sign from the Lord that the stress level in her life was too high and He was allowing her to go back to smoking. (huh?) Through the years she dealt with many bouts of pneumonia, and in December, 1998, was in the hospital again. After two weeks of no response to treatment, the doctors ordered a CAT scan. Lungs full of cancer. She was gone in five days.

She would have been 94 tomorrow. She might have died from something else if not cancer, but I do know that the health and even societal compromises experienced by a smoker make for a high price to pay.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lucky You! Your children's clothes could be YOURS someday!

In a previous entry I wrote about my exercising. While some fellow spinners have proper bicycling shorts, I cannot see myself in them. My acquaintances look just fine, but I just cannot imagine the same results if I pulled on those skin-tights. Instead I am just perfectly content with the very ancient soccer shorts that I wear.

I never played soccer. All the soccer shorts that I wear to class were initially bought for my son. He didn't play much soccer himself, but as a kid he wore soccer shorts all the time during warm weather. At some point during his elementary years, he and I wore the same pant size. As he continued to grow, I diverted his shorts from the Goodwill pile and into my drawer to wear gardening. Even the gardening is now out of my picture because I live in a condominium, but the shorts wear on and on.

I recycled my daughter's clothing items, too, including her shoes. During her 12th year I determined that she and I had the same shoe size. My daughter really likes clothes and fashion, so I thought I'd give her a treat. She and I went together to the mall and bought a couple more pairs of shoes that season than she would normally have gotten, and they were a bit better quality. Why? Because I knew that when she moved on to a bigger size, I could claim these shoes as my own. And I did. For one season she had more shoes than she was used to; and thirteen years later after a few new heels, I just threw the last pair away.

Monday, January 12, 2009


My thriftiness is from my mother, no doubt. Not only were her frugal habits developed out of necessity because of the Depression, but her family had an exceptional challenge: her father died in 1925 when she was ten years old. He was coming home from a business trip in Newport on the train and his appendix burst. By the time he got to Knoxville, it was too late. Fortunately two of her sisters, who never did leave home, were soon to be in the work world and could support the family.

My mother's attitude about money may have seemed unbalanced to some. For example, my parents sent all seven of us to private secondary school. I spent four years boarding at a school in Asheville, North Carolina; so I was a certifiable "preppie." However, I was only allowed one call home a week; and when we had talked for three minutes, my mother would terminate the conversation. She typed a weekly letter every Sunday afternoon on her manual typewriter to the last three of us who were still away (my brother was in Vietnam for part of this time). She used carbon paper, and as the youngest I always got the last copy. Oftentimes I could not read some of the text because she didn't hit the keys hard enough. Trips home to Knoxville were allowed not frequently and judiciously. I traveled on the Trailways bus through winding mountain roads before I-40 was built, and my mother probably would have been surprised to know how much money I had to spend on Dramamine. Clothing expenses were minimal as we had uniforms and mother was still making most of my other clothes. When I graduated and many of my classmates were getting cars, I got a watch. However, I always had a sense of pride in her nonconforming approach to finances.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Prescription Drug Couponing

Prescription Drug Couponing? A good thing or a bad way to experience medicine mix-up?

Prescription Drug Users Alert! Both Target and Kmart have great coupons in their Sunday morning newspaper inserts today. Kmart is $30 for two prescriptions (through January 17), and Target is $10 for one (through January 26). The prescriptions have to be either new or transferred.*

I use these coupons. I routinely bounce back and forth from pharmacy to pharmacy so that my prescriptions are considered transfers. Consequently, there is no one pharmacist who has my and my husband's complete records. Many medical consultants would consider this situation as the makings of a time bomb with the potential inappropriate mix of medications. However, what we have going for us is that we get most of prescriptions from one doctor, our primary care physician.

*Food City is winding down its current Fuel Buck/Pharmacy Buck campaign ending January 17. They seem to run this program maybe two times a year. During a given shopping trip, if you buy more than $10 of Food City-brand foods, you get a $1 voucher, which can be used on either Food City gasoline or Food City prescriptions.

Food City Milk Alert, Part II

Yesterday I went and redeemed my vouchers for a free gallon of milk. With the receipt I was given a notice that all redemptions on the milk have to be done by January 17. That's a week longer to redeem than I indicated before.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Downtown still bustling

It has been an incredibly horrible week for Knoxville. There has been a lot of business closings, yet life goes on.

Last night I was at the Crown and Goose and ran into a friend who informed me about the ImagePoint closing. She gestured to someone in her party who got let go. It made me think about the whole of the Friday-night scene. Here it was, NOT First Friday and yet the four places that we went to throughout the night were packed. Among the throngs, there must have been a lot of unemployed people who still seem to find a few dollars for a little diversion. Even with my overriding sense of making the most of every penny, to me that is money well-spent.

Are we in a recession? Yes. If Friday nights in downtown slow down, then we would be in a depression.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Food City Milk Alert!

For some time now Food City has had a program whereby each time you buy a gallon of the Food City brand milk, you receive a voucher. Collect six vouchers and you can turn them in for a free gallon of milk.

Sometime last week vouchers were no longer given, and the printed expiration date on the vouchers is January 10, 2009. That would be THIS Saturday. Will there be long lines of people getting their free gallons of milk? I wonder. At least there is no snow predicted, so there won't be an additional number of people in the stores for that reason.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Reusuable Bags--actually remembering to pull them out of my purse!

Resolution Number 1: USE THOSE REUSUABLE BAGS!!!

I have two nylon bags, the wonderful kind that have their own packets into which they fold. I have thick rubber-banded them together so that with one probe into the abyss of my purse I can find them both.

At the grocery store, typically my brain gets triggered to use them about the time I'm swiping my debit card. In that nanosecond of downtime that follows, I glance over to see the bagger. Dang! He/she's on the fifth plastic bag. He/she has averaged about four items per bag, except with the milk (the gallon size with its own handle) which gets its own bag. Of course, I could ask him/her to rebag them, but that is not a good idea on two counts: I would be slowing down the line; and suggesting that the next shopper use my discards would not be appropriate.

SO, I resolve to remember to use the bags. I'm going to put a thin rubberband around the store's swipe cards to remind me to pull them out. (Kind of like tying a piece of string around one's finger.) Hopefully, about the time the rubberbands decide to break, I'll have a habit established.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Healthy Aimed

OK, so I am bragging just a little bit. I have kept one of my '08 New Year's resolutions. I know that maintaining good health keeps health expenses down, so I aimed to exercise regularly; and I did it during '08. Right now it's sometime past 7 a.m., and I just returned from my spinning workout. I try to participate in spinning at least twice a week and "Body Pump" at least twice a week. The spinning class is 40 minutes of riding on a stationary bicycle along with others, being led through specific routines by an instructor to appropriately upbeat music. "Body Pump" is a carefully designed one-hour routine of weightlifting to music, again led by a trained instructor.

I'm healthier than I was a year ago, but more importantly I have a new network of acquaintances. There is a core of 25 people or so of which 2/3 are at the fitness center on any given morning. It's almost like "Cheers"--when I come in, I am greeted by friends. If I miss a few days, I'm expected to report where I've been. We acknowledge each other's progress in the workouts. If I increase the weight on my bar for a certain routine, it seems like someone always notices it and responds positively. We've marked many changes throughout our lives--new jobs, marriages, life-threatening illnesses, and deaths.

I have an obligation to keep healthy for myself and for those who depend on me, but I now have an added sense of obligation to continue working out at these 6 a.m. classes. Come next Monday morning, and many mornings after that, I'll once again roll out of bed early and get going for the exercise; but I'm going to show up for those other people, too.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! Happy? It's 2009, forecasted to be a banner bad year. Saving money will become critical.

This is the first day of this blog. It is dedicated to saving money. Comments are welcomed, but please make them practical and applicable.

I live in Knoxville, Tennessee, home of The University of Tennessee Volunteers, traditionally a football powerhouse. The Vols didn't have a good year, so a lot of people are saving money not going to a bowl game!