Friday, February 27, 2009

Picking Up Change

Last week as I was walking through the grocery store parking lot, I noticed a nickle. I picked it up. A few paces later there were a few pennies, and a dime. I imagined what had happened: Someone was pulling out their keys on the way to their car and out came the change, unnoticed.

I always pick up change.

Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes did a piece on this very issue. Along the sidewalks of New York City, his crew scattered a few coins. While the quarters always got picked up, the pennies almost never did. But I don't live in New York. I live in Knoxville, Tennessee, where pennies still count. I got a "free" box of Reynolds Wrap at Walgreens a few days ago combining their store coupon with one I had clipped some weeks before. (This was my only purchase besides a prescription.) Of course, I still had to pay the eight cents of tax on the Reynolds Wrap. Most likely the coins I used to pay this tax were the very ones I picked up just a few days earlier, so my acquisition was truly free to me.

I am always wary of stooping down, though. It's sort of suspect behavior. I occasionally get a funny look. When that happens, I think about the short story by Guy de Maupassant that I first read in high school: A Piece of String. If you haven't read it, I just found the entire story on line through

My husband found this and found it appropriate to this entry:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Blew It!

I had a gift card from T.J. Maxx that had some credit on it. I bought shoes, used the gift cards and paid out $4.18 in cash; so I have officially blown my "I'm not buying any new clothes in 2009" pledge.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cheap Can Be Creative

One of my favorite shows growing up was "That Girl," starring Marlo Thomas. She played a struggling actress who never really experienced economic hardship as she could rely on her doting parents and her reliable boyfriend, but one scene has stayed with me for more than 40 years:

Ann has run out of money; so when she goes to a restaurant with a friend, she orders hot water into which she dumps a liberal amount of ketchup. Voila! Tomato soup.

Well, it might be the little things that get some people by, but I have never been tempted by hot, watery ketchup.

However, I am getting into saving a little bit here and there:

I use both sides of paper at work. A lot of what I print is for people within the office and doesn't have to look wonderful, so I just put a big x on the side that I don't want them to be concerned about. Only then do the sheets go into the recycling bin.

If I have an incredibly big copy project, I use the time minding the copy machine practically. There is some weird science that even though the copy time may be a few minutes during which you think you can go do something else, the machine is guaranteed to JAM, so you have to stand there, almost daring it not to jam. Instead of mindlessly standing there, I cut the reams-of-paper wrapping into pieces that I can use for note paper (our paper cutter is next to the copier). Pretty extreme, but it beats simply staring at the copier.

During the summer I try to remember to put a container in the shower to collect the water as it is heating up. Our water heater is not near our shower, so there are some moments before it is ready. However, one deck is right outside our bedroom, and I can use the water for the plants (In July, they can ALWAYS use the water). By the way, kudos to you who use gray water for watering non-edibles. I'm not that efficient. (Wikipedia defines greywater as non-industrial wastewater generated from domestic processes such as dish washing, laundry and bathing. )

Speaking of plants, I am seriously looking into a water collection/irrigation system for our big deck on the roof of our building, maybe even with a drip system. My husband is the gardener, and he spent a significant amount of time and a lot of KUB-processed water to make both our decks look spectacular last year. I think those plants will be just as happy with collected rainwater; and I'll be happier not feeling guilty about my husband up there watering while I'm stretched out on the couch in the air conditioning watching Jeopardy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Forever Stamps" Can I invest in them for my retirement?

With the news that postage is going up so soon, my initial reaction is that I should have bought more "forever stamps" before the last increase. However, in reality, I thought my money had better places to be, like making contributions to my retirement plan. Where is that crystal ball when I need it?

On May 14, 2007 when the postal service introduced the forever stamp, the postage was $.41. On May 12, 2008 the rate went up to $.42. On May 11 it is going up to $.44.
That's a seven percent increase in two years.

Needless to say, my retirement portfolio has not exactly gone up seven percent in the last two years.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Help! I finally got on Facebook

I have been on Facebook a little more than a week. Help!

All I can write is that I am going to have to find some incredible sense of discipline that I never had to limit my time on Facebook. I am sure that you veterans are laughing, but it's as fun as everyone said it would be.

Maybe I should buy an egg timer and place it by the computer to make sure that I don't spend too much time on Facebook. Or maybe the novelty will wear off. Time will tell . . . Any suggestions?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lipstick users: Max the Use with the Mix

Can you not bear to throw away ANYTHING? What about a lipstick that when you brought it home you realized was a bad color for you? What about one you accidentally broke off? What about that last little bit in the bottom of the tube? Your solution to saving every little bit of stick: LipStix ReMix. (

The original LipStix ReMix™ is a patent-pending system containing everything you need to Re-Color your lipstick, Recover lipstick in the bottom of the tube and Repair a broken lipstick.

Just Mix, Melt, and Mold—Easy as 1, 2, 3. Finally, an easy way to mix your lipstick and create a professionally shaped lipstick in just minutes.

Disclosurer: the creator of this product is a good friend.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Time Well Spent

PLEASE NOTE: Invest in friendships!!! It's the best time spent!

I work with seniors. One of the most challenging parts of my job is visiting isolated older people. Throughout their lives many of them worked hard at their jobs and worked hard at raising their children.

And then one day they look up, and they are alone.

Their spouses have either died or left them, their children have moved away, and they never did get very close to people at work.

I am deliberately and continually making friends with many people from all sectors of my life. This includes people twenty years younger than I am. Just as one diversifies one's financial portfolio, one should diversify in friend support. It's the best social security net!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Snow: Forced Changes in Plans Open Pockets of Time

This morning we had a very wet snow here in Knoxville. Around 10 a.m. the downpour got very white and very THICK, and the temperature was right on 32 degrees.

And so the cancellations started.

Plans changed. Hours set aside for meetings opened up. This presented a great opportunity to take advantage of capturing that most valuable commodity: time. To many of those who are "thrifty with their time" and use it wisely, this was a great opportunity.

I am not a seasoned driver in the snow and ice. Authorities are warning about the slush-turned-to-black ice and asking people to wait until the sun comes up to get out tomorrow, so I'll be missing my morning workout. However, since I am a morning person I can do some significant work on some coupon filing I haven't done.

I anticipate to write much more on couponing in later blogs. I am slowly learning this fine art from some local masters. Discipline, determination, patience and persistence--never did I think that I would use these words in describing couponing, but apparently it works to realize great savings (and it's fun!).