Friday, March 27, 2009

Economic Theorum Tested

My husband and I just returned from five days of doing absolutely as little as we could during a respite to Florida. We've been visiting this particular community since 1986, and we definitely saw evidence of the recession everywhere we turned. A lot of businesses have closed.

We stopped by and chatted with a store owner who we know well. As she described the profile of the visitor she is seeing with increasing frequency--they always cook in, never eat out, and don't buy anything in the stores--it made me think of something I had read about what economists had to say about our behavior in this situation, as posed by the Alchian-Allen theorum.

The original theorum stated that adding a per unit charge to the price of two substitute goods increases the relative consumption of the higher priced good. (Example: Australians drink more higher-quality California wine than Californians which are more expensive to them, and vice-versa, even though the only difference is the shipping cost.)

But in further development of the theorum, economists now apply it not only to when the goods are shipped to the consumer, but when the consumer goes to the goods. Think vacation. When you spend a lot to get to a location, you spend more while you are there. Where does the newly profiled vacationer that my store-owner friend described fit in? Is the current economic situation bending this theorum? Time will tell; but I'm hoping that a little "A-A" (Alchian-Allen) even applies to the frugal vacationer, that at least for one dinner they are splurging on local shrimp purchased at the fish market instead of dining on fish sticks they brought from home.

My apologies in not giving credit to the individual economists whose work I liberally used.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A hay-penny will do

When I was growing up, we had a Bing Crosby Christmas record that had a song addressing the charitable spirit of the season. One line went something like "if you've got a penny, a penny will do; if you simply have a hay-penny, then God bless you." I suppose that means that if you are down to a hay-penny, then you don't have enough even to give a little to charity. A hay-penny was a half penny. It was an English coin.

But if there were a hay-penny in the U.S. currency, I suppose I'd be chasing after them because I think every little bit helps. For example:

1. It really bothers me that when there is some stereo-typical profile of a cheapster, there is some reference of squeezing the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube. I am here to tell you that even after the last squeeze, there is enough for five or six good brushings.

The first time I thought about this I cut the tube in half and started to brush the inside, but then I realized I was contaminating the sides with my brush. So now I horizontally cut the tube in five or six pieces, one for each use.

2. Every time I use dishwashing liquid, I routinely run the top of the bottle under the water and into the suds I am working up. That keeps the top from getting gunky--gunk that could have been usuable soap.

3. Of course, the last shampoo always is gotten after swishing some water around the bottle.

With all this work, I might have extended the use of these products by at least 60 days over the course of my life, and I intend to live to 100.

I do some other cheapy things, but I anticipate that my friends are going to make enough fun of me with these. I am not going to give them any more ammunition.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Couponing is changing my life!

Changes in my life due to money-saving strategies:

1. gotten bold and asked a few people for their Sunday coupons. no problem, 100 percent "yes" response. (note to file: know who to ask)

2. now look forward to filing coupons.

3. going to a file box for filing coupons. (used to be able to carry all coupons in this cute case my daughter gave me. I still carry that in my purse with restaurant and "major" coupons.) I have not crossed the line and carried my file box into the grocery store, but I feel it coming.

4. going to grocery store early Saturday morning so that I can savor the shopping-and-saving experience in the quiet of non-crowded aisles.

5. cashing refund checks and combining them with my reimbursement checks from work and paying cash for almost everything in my day-to-day activities. There is that weird science where cash really does spend more slowly than plastic. And yes, I try to give exact change, so don't get behind me at Aldi's! I'll slow you down!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Couponing Correction

I am so excited! Please see the response to my last entry. Thanks, J! (who maintains I have had a major heart change on the getting-with-coupons-stuff-you-don't-use-personally issue.

Getting into couponing is reminding me a lot of my faith journey. When I first had a true change of heart through which I realized where I was going after this world, I was all excited; but I was SOOO unschooled and unskilled that it was best to be very careful in sharing my newfound awareness.

Just like couponing.

As a toddler only thinks about where he is going and might knock some things down in getting there, my comments were short-sighted in that I hadn't gotten beyond thinking about me and my immediate needs. That is why the response to the March 9 blog is so important.

My change of heart is that now I will be thinking of others when I put together deals. Homebound, homeless, unemployed. There are a lot needs out there. I can help a little. I can donate a few tubes of toothpaste, a few rolls of toilet paper, and maybe even a bottle of bodywash once in a while.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Couponing Gone Wild

I have a new obsession. I cannot get enough of the coupon and savings blogs. I open one, and it has links that lead to others, which lead to others. Of course, all these bloggers across these great United States are nameless and faceless to me.

While this is not a scientific analysis, I believe that the typical profile is the at-home mom. Huggies diapers seem to be a big focus of the on-line chatter, something that makes me feel a bit alienated. Ronald Reagan was in the White House the last time I bought diapers.

I am impressed by the number of items that these people get FREE, but there are a lot of things which do not appeal to me. I DON'T want or need free Irish Spring Body Wash that you can get at Walgreens this week, a biggy that has been noted in at least five blogs I have read this morning. (I am a good old bar soap user. If I happen to crack open a body wash bottle at a hotel, I bring the rest home and use it to wash hand-washables.) I don't need the scent devices that seem to be free with a little planning. If I want to make things smell nice here in the condo, I light up the candles that I bought from one of my Bible study buddies who was selling them on behalf of her son's band.

Yet there are a lot of bargains that are helping our bottom line: essentially free toothpaste, deoderant, very reasonable cost of frozen pizza. I'm having fun and saving money.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Grocery Stores

Living in a medium-sized town makes for store envy on some fronts. We do not have Whole Foods or Trader Joe's here in Knoxville.

A couple of weeks ago when in Nashville, my husband and I munched our way through Whole Foods and bought some salad items for a very indulgent supper when we got home to Knoxville that evening (for you food safety freaks, it was still cold and we put the food in the trunk). We then popped over to Trader Joe's.

I, the cheapy of us two, had been mesmerized by Trader Joe's on a November trip to Chicago organized through the Knoxville Museum of Art. While the trip included dining with other members of our group at very nice restaurants, we could balance our spending with bringing in some wine and munchies to our hotel room from the Trader Joe's that was located just a couple of blocks away.

Unfortunately the shine was off my February Trader Joe's experience since I have been impacted by serious couponing habits that I have been in the process of developing since January. The Trader Joe's brands are competitive, but I can do so much better on brand names combining specials and couponing at conventional grocery stores. And interestingly, the produce at Trader Joe's was not that much lower than Whole Foods.

What I am excited about is ALDI'S!!!! It has come to Knoxville. It didn't make sense to maintain our Sam's membership after we moved downtown, so I am really looking forward to some major savings on meat and produce. Aldi's is not exactly in my neighborhood, but Mapquest tells me that it will cost me $.88 in fuel costs to get there and back. That's a number that I can live with.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


As I said, I live downtown. A lot of our loft-y neighbors have pared down to one car. We can't because both of us need our vehicles in our respective jobs. However, I am very fortunate because I make a two-mile beeline to my job from my home.

And fortunately my drive takes me right by my credit union . . .

which gives me a double daily dose of yet another economic indicator.

There is an increasing number of vehicles in the front lot for sale. Repossessed cars. While my friends have, by choice, eliminated their vehicles, of course the former owners of these vehicles had their choice taken away from them. One, ironically, is a Hyundai; and Hyundai now has a program where they will take your car back if you lose your job.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hair Deal

Hair: for a mid-fifties year-old woman who has made the decision not to go gray, expenses relating to upkeep can be dear, so for some years I went CHEAP, NOT thrifty.

For some time I colored my own hair and got my hair cut at one of the strip mall facilities. When I finally decided to upgrade, the hair stylist remarked that my hair reminded her of cotton candy as it was so dry due to overuse of peroxide, and the cut was rather stumpy.

This is NOT the person who I am going to now. I have NEVER heard a mean-spirited word from my current stylist, Tabby Davis at Barnes & Barnes on Market Square. Getting your hair done should be a positive experience, and Tabby delivers. And my hair looks WAAAAY better!

Does this sound like an advertisement? It is! And while her prices are very competitive, Tabby has promised a discount for some of the first service to anyone who I send her way.

As a downtown resident, I had decided to support as many downtown merchants as I could, so I just walked into Salon Barnes & Barnes, and I was set up with Tabby. One of the best moves I have made lately.

Interested? Check out their website or call 637-5149 (closed Mondays) and tell Tabby that Thrifty sent you.