Sunday, August 17

Martha Stewart of frugality? Not me

Okay, I know I began to allude to this in yesterday's post, but I might as well state it for the record.

The reason I felt so compelled to start a blog is because I could never find many frugal tips that could be applied to my situation. There are so many great frugal tips out in the world. But what about those of us with severe fatigue? Or other physical limitations?

I think of PF blogs much in the same way I think of home decor/crafting shows: There's tons of great ideas, but most of us have to find something a little less ambitious.

Of course, there will always be people who have the time/energy/talent to make a swan ice mold out of nothing but old newspapers, bag ties and cut up credit cards.

The rest of us are just trying to keep our the dust bunnies from banding together and staging a coup.

In other words, how do you accomplish debt reduction if you're not exactly the Martha Stewart of frugality?

And so I started this blog, in part to see who would join in the discussion. I'd be interested in getting the perspective of others living with disabilities -- and in that vein, I'm reaching out to some disability blog carnivals.

That said, this isn't just for people with Medicare cards. I think there are a lot of people are trying to find a balance between the advice they hear and what actually works for them. Because there is no magic one-size-fits-all.

So what to do?

Sheesh, but I wish I had the answer to this one. I'm still trying to figure out a good balance for myself.
  • How much can I do versus how much I want to be able to do?
  • How much can planning ahead keep you prepared and how much of life is just going to take you by surprise no matter what?
  • And how many allowances do you make for special circumstances?

For example, we have cable (just the basic stuff, no premium channels) and cable internet. But we're home all day. Every day. Is this a luxury we could do without? Yeah, probably. But the results would be pretty ugly. So, although those items are technically expendable, I've had to make the executive decision that they're keeping us sane.

And I'm sure lots of people would disagree with me about those. But our situation is very different from a lot of bloggers. And so I have to take all advice with a grain of salt.

There will always be people out there like one commenter from today who said that $1000 isn't that much money. And while he's entitled to his opinion, clearly his life is quite different from mine.

On the other hand, people like him make me feel pretty darn good about my level of frugality. (Cheap thrill, I know, but there it is.)

And now for something completely different...

For a moment, because I am tired and sleep-deprived and because it is almost my birthday (and my blog), I am going to go off on a slight tangent.

I had this class at the UW about decision making in politics. The point was basically that the human brain can only hold so many priorities at once. And it was something appalling like 3 or 5. When's the last time you had just three or five things on your mind?

So if we can only hold that many items at any given time... Well, I think we've found what's keeping us all from being perfectly frugal: Life.

Because life is terribly misbehaved. It doesn't limit the amount of crap going on in day-to-day life just because we ask it nicely. Instead, each of us has to learn how to juggle multiple (and sometimes conflicting) priorities. And no matter how good a juggler you are, you're eventually going to drop a ball or two.

And all this musing about randomness got me thinking about a great scene from "Gilmore Girls." Lorelai is complaining to her daughter, Rory, that she has to write a letter in support of her friend. But nothing's coming:

Rory: Sounds like you're overthinking this. Maybe if you just put pen to paper --

Lorelai: I tried that. I thought, I'll just sit down and write whatever comes. No judgment, no inner critic -- boy, was that a bad idea.

Rory: Really? Why?

Lorelai: Because my brain is a wild jungle full of scary gibberish. "I'm writing a letter. I can't write a letter. Why can't I write a letter? I'm wearing a green dress. I wish I was wearing my blue dress. My blue dress is at the cleaners'. 'The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.' Casablanca. Casablanca's such a good movie. Casablanca. The White House. Bush. Why don't I drive a hybrid car? I should really drive a hybrid car. I should really take my bicycle to work. Bicycle, unicycle, unitard, hockey puck, rattlesnake monkey monkey underpants."

Rory: "Hockey puck rattlesnake monkey monkey underpants"?

Lorelai: Exactly! That's what I'm saying. It's a big bag of weird in there.

And while I am lucky enough to have avoided the dreaded "rattlesnake monkey monkey underpants" phenomenon, I still lie awake at night, trying to shut my brain off. But I have this internal PDA that keeps popping back on and reminding me of all the things I didn't get done today, the things I need to get done tomorrow, the things I really need to start thinking about getting done tomorrow.... And so on.

And with all that noise clattering in my head (much like the state room scene in "Night at the Opera"), how on earth will I ever be able to sit down and make those swan ice molds?

Okay, I want to issue a challenge: I am interested to get a look at the "big bag of weird" in your brain. So I think we should all do a quick list of the overwhelming number of things nagging at us. It should provide some ranting/comic relief. And maybe it'll give us some perspective about why we're all so stressed out!

If I can get at least 10 entries (I'll count mine as one) I'll award a $10 gift card to the best one.

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Blogger Abby said...

Okay I'll go first.

The dishes are piling up in the sink.

My cat's litter box will need changing soon.

Oh, and it's been hot so check her water bowl before bedtime

How long has it been since the floor was vacuumed?

Oh, right, the vacuum died. I have to take a look at it.

Tim needs to take out the trash.

I need to finish changing my name on my credit cards and get Tim put on one or two.

I still haven't written the thank-you notes from my mid-May wedding.

Are we ever going to use that crockpot I asked for? It's really cool.

I wonder if I should do a search for good crock pot recipes on the web.

Am I spending too much time on my blog?

Yeah but at least it's cheap entertainment.

I need to get my medication refilled soon, it's running low.

I need to get it transferred because I hate how slow Rite Aid is.

We got the MRSA treatment at Rite Aid and we really need to get started on that.

Ugh, but that means we have to use this stuff that we put up our noses.

Tuesday's my birthday and we still have only a loose idea of what we're doing.

(And I really don't want one of those things to be putting gunk up my nose. So maybe we should wait on the MRSA stuff til Weds)

Wednesday we're going down to see the in-laws.

I wonder how bad traffic will be.

I wonder how early we should leave to avoid traffic.

I should remember to check the Dept of Transportation's webcams this time.

But I always say that and always forget.

Kind of like how I always forget my coupons and shopping list at home.

I should get a coupon organizer to always have in my purse.

Wasn't there some place that had grapes on sale for like 98 cents this week?

Oh, right that was Fred Meyer. We have to go there Tuesday to pick up Tim's re-sized ring.

But Tuesday's my birthday and I don't want to run errands.

But I am looking forward to having some ice cream and cake.

Mmmm sugar.

I wonder where we should eat.

Crap, those dishes in the sink really need to get done.

(And so we've come full circle)

August 18, 2008 at 3:09 AM

Blogger ModernGear TV said...

If I shared it all, I might never stop. Here is a snippet.

First, a song plays in the background of my mind. Right now it's unidentifiable, just a few lines of a song, over and over and I WANT IT TO STOP!

My left ring finger large joint really hurts, shoot. What doesn't hurt though? (I too, have chronic pain - from Rheumatoid Arthritis)

Wonder how my sister's quilt making is going.

Wish I could afford to buy sewing machine and fabric like she has, but then again she can't afford it and she got it anyway. Am glad I don't rush to spend.

Why can't I be neater? I save inspiring photos but I can't do it myself. No time.

What's the dog doing outside? He's suspiciously quiet.

My coffee is cold. That's okay! I like cold coffee.

That movie (Revolver) last night SUCKED.

That's a minute in my mind...

August 18, 2008 at 12:06 PM

Blogger Meg said...

LOL! I love Gilmore Girls... my brain is soooo like that, though I didn't know it was "ADD" till college. As someone else with very limited energy....

I should vacuum. I hate vacuuming. %!##-it I'll just finish tearing up the rest of the carpet... when I get around to it. I hate our carpet. I tore up the carpet in the den. Then tore out the walls and the ceiling. Then we found out the entire roof needed to be replaced, including rafters. We need to see how much an architect will cost. I hope it doesn't spring any more leaks tomorrow during the hurricane.

Got to prep for the hurricane on the way. Are the batteries charged? Are those rechargeables? Who hasn't been filling up the ice cube trays? How much ice should I make? Should I shave my legs now or wait till tomorrow? I should shave them before the hurricane comes. What are we going to do with the chickens?

Hubby called. He got in a car accident this morning. This is why I hate him driving. We lost a roommate in an accident a year and a half ago. Hubby's fine, but still. This is one of many. He was supposed to be home hours ago "at the latest" when something else came up at work. I need him here to help with the hurricane prep. Now I'll be holding a flashlight outside tonight I bet while he works. Ugh.

One of our roommates moved out Saturday -- yay! Except she left stuff of hers for us to toss out or give away. Geez, thanks. But did she mean to leave X, Y, or Z? Looks important. Oh well. Not my problem.. right? Should I call her? I don't want to. Why is everyone's problems my problems? Why do they always assume I should be the middleman/manager?

Can't move in stuff until other roommate moves her stuff to her new room. Blah.

Wow, our office looks like a hurricane already hit it.

Need to wash the dishes before the hurricane. The kitchen is a disaster. I don't have the energy to deal. I have to write a post for tomorrow and do other stuff for work. But will hubby have energy to do it all when he gets home?

He has a sinus infection which is why he missed his mom's birthday which is why we were here to watch our roommate move which we weren't supposed to be but thank goodness because the movers almost took our other roommate's table and chairs and our remote almost left in a couch but they still managed to step all over our newly planted vines and sit their dollies ontop of the poor things. The poor things that were crushed by the city tree trimmers the other day when they came at 7:30 am -- when I had two hours sleep. I asked them to watch the plants but I saw them standing right in one of the clearly marked patches with their big boots and they dragged the limbs over my poor purslane which was being "protected" by fencing scraps which themselves ended up in the front yard in the wood pile.

I have a pile of books I need to donate to the library.

A cat peed in one of our folding chairs. I should wash it. We don't get our new couch for a few weeks so all we have are the folding chairs.

Thought it was our former roommate's cat but maybe it was our cat. We switched the litter type too quickly and one started peeing elsewhere. Hope that doesn't become a habit.

I'm hurting and tired. It'll only get worse as the hurricane approaches. Stupid atmospheric pressure change.

This was supposed to be my week to relax and unwind. Hah!

Didn't mean to run on quite as long as I did but I guess I have a lot on my mind. I didn't expect it to be quite a rant because I'm usually pretty mellow, but I guess I needed it so thanks.

August 18, 2008 at 3:21 PM

Blogger Abby said...

Thanks to both Meg and ModernGearTV for some great examples!

Come on folks, just seven more! (Six if my mom decides to do a rant -- since she wouldn't be eligible.)

I forgot to set a deadline for this. Obviously, some folks check in more sporadically. So I'll say by Friday, if we have 10 by then, I'll go ahead and choose a winner.

August 18, 2008 at 3:30 PM

Blogger Donna said...

I took my thyroid meds, didn't I? What time was that? I have to wait 30 to 60 minutes before eating anything. I guess I'll stretch and then I'll start my oatmeal. Ow, my hips are sore. I need to loosen up, or I'll be in trouble when school starts and I have to start sitting in classes again. I wonder which tenses I would use to say that in Spanish. I never did call my Spanish teacher about picking cherries and teaching her to make jam. I'd be teaching the teacher, ha ha. Some people give apples to the teacher; I give pectin and jamming lessons. We'd be jammin'. A couple of white chicks sittin' around jammin'. What a good show that was. Boy, that was a long time ago, when Anchorage had all those theater companies. I can't believe it's been almost seven years since I left Alaska. Time just got away from me. What time is it? Can I eat yet? Nope, another 15 minutes. My 15 minutes of fame haven't happened yet. Maybe they will later. What am I going to write about for Wednesday? Something that makes me famous for 15 minutes, I hope. Or infamous. I'd take either one, as long as it resulted in a lot of visitors to the blog site. Of course it would mean negative comments. Accentuate the postive, eliminate the negative. I wish more people knew that song. I wish I knew all the words to that song. Maybe I'll look it up on the Internet. Maybe I'll start my blog with those words. Maybe I'll pitch forever. Maybe I'll bitch forever. Why do these stretching exercises seem to last forever? Time to start my oatmeal. Did I take the blood pressure meds when I took the thyroid meds? No, I don't think so. So let's see, it's BP meds, Singulair for asthma, baby aspirin for rosacea, iron for mild anemia, multivitamin for everything else, and fish oil! Look at all these pills. Welcome to the old people's club. Wow, I have a lot of pills. Some of the readers are real pills. Oops, I shouldn't say that about my readers. But how come they never worry about what they say about ME? How come they get to call me rude names and insult me when they don't like what I write, and I have to turn the other cheek? I notice when you do that you get smacked on that side of the face too. Oh well, time to face up to my responsibilities. Time to swallow all these pills. Will there be room for oatmeal? I hope so, 'cause the microwave just beeped. Beep beep. Meep meep. Roadrunner, the coyote's after you -- and he's got PILLS. All of them say "Acme" on them. Come on, take the pills and you can have oatmeal. Mmmm, oatmeal. Why can't I have Captain Crunch? I'm an adult. I ought to be able to have the cereal I want. But no, that wouldn't be a smart decision. Sometimes I hate being an adult. But I always love Captain Crunch, even if he spells it "Cap'n." Aye aye. Ay yi yi yi/canta y no llora. I wonder how hard Spanish class will be. At least as hard as the crust that's forming on this oatmeal the longer I delay eating it. Wait...did I take my thyroid meds?

August 18, 2008 at 9:53 PM

Blogger Rachel said...

My finger hurts. Dang, it *really hurts.*

I hate paper cuts.

I wonder if I can have a ream of printer paper to take home?

I wonder if anyone will actually ever come back to the office so I can ask them?

Maybe I'm going to be all alone in the office for the rest of my employment.

That'd be weird.

Just me and 8 rooms of empty furniture and some office supplies.

That'd be a good horror movie -- Frozen in an Empty Office.

We do have a panic alarm under my desk.

Final Destination 2 was a really, really horrible horror movie.

Is that why they call them horror movies?

I can't believe hubby made me watch it with him.

Okay, really, I just couldn't get up because I was being a lazy bum.

Maybe I should get up now and stretch, this office chair is making me feel frozen and cramped.

Hehe, Frozen in an Empty Office.

Ice cream sounds really good right now, I wish I could put that on the grocery list.

Then I probably wouldn't want it once we had it.

No, I'm kidding myself.

I guess I have to be kidding myself, there's no one else here to kid.

I really do need to stretch, but dang...

My finger really hurts.

August 21, 2008 at 11:28 AM

Blogger Susanna said...

Hi, Meg! I didn't know you had this blog, too.

I did this fitness & diet program once where you were supposed to write down 5 priorities for each day. 2 of those were "eat right" and "exercise", so really only 3 things. It was nice having a to-do list with only 3 things on it. But after finishing the program, I've never been able to get back to that level of simplicity.

I recently purged all the to-do guilt lodged in my brain. It was nice while it lasted, but now more is building up, so here goes:

Have to reply to my grandma's email and send her pictures of my son.

Need to actually order those cute little photobooks of his pictures we set up to send to all the relatives.

Better pay the bills before they get overdue. Never should've stuffed them in a cabinet to get them out of the way - how did my MIL ever convince me that was a good idea? She was the one who got me to put all the cards from my wedding gifts into ziploc bags so I could organize my thank-you note writing, and then I stuffed the bags somewhere and lost them.

No, move on: that is old, old guilt and has no place in my 2008 brain-dump.

Anyway, must also deposit birthday money checks before relatives think I don't appreciate or need those gifts.

Oh, and write thank-you notes for those.

There's no way I'm going to get a note to my husband's grandma before I see her this weekend, dangit.

Speaking of mail, why hasn't the book I ordered arrived yet?

I have to make time to go to the library before Saturday.

Also have to do laundry, clean up house before vacation.

Crap! Did I or did I not schedule the pet-sitter to come next week? OK, can't comment any more - must call her to make sure she's coming or else our cats will either die of starvation or have to come with us.

August 21, 2008 at 2:03 PM

Blogger Abby said...


Thanks for posting! We're getting closer to the goal, folks!

August 21, 2008 at 2:30 PM

Blogger Abby said...


Thanks for posting!

Meg's a great reader to have on this blog!

Great rant.

We're at 6 of the necessary 10. So just four more and someone gets a gift card!

August 21, 2008 at 2:32 PM

Blogger The Consummate Gardener said...

I love the Gilmore Girls! I can so relate to Lorelei.

Let's see...short list

House is almost unfit for human habitation, but I'm too busy trying to make money with my blogs and writing to clean it up.

My cat drives me crazy trying to jump on me all day long and yowling, yowling, yowling...following me everywhere.

My yard makes my house look like it's uninhabited...hell, my HOUSE makes my house look like it's uninhabited!

$1,000 is a LOT of money! I can almost pay all my bills each month with $1,000, if I don't have to drive.

I don't have cable or satellite, and have no reception, so my t.v. sits unused in my living room, which is o.k. anyway, because it's not digital, so it doesn't work except with cable or satellite. I end up using it to watch videos, but haven't even done that lately.

I can't find a clean coffee cup, and I desperately want coffee. How do I run through 12 coffee cups in two days, and why don't I just wash them every day? I'm such a slob.

That's enough. I'm embarrassing myself now.

August 21, 2008 at 3:35 PM

Blogger Meg said...

Thanks, Abby!

Hi Susanna!
I do have a few around the net, but this time around I was just spreading the word for a fellow blogger. Thanks for adding to the rant list!

August 21, 2008 at 3:39 PM

Blogger Easy Dish said...

How, when my brain is ALWAYS going a mile a minute, can I think of nothing more than "monkey litter" right now?

I think that's a cross between Loreli's rambling brain and Abby's cat's needs.

Or perhaps I am in some transcended Zen state and Monkey Litter is, in fact, the key to the universe.

If I were in a transcended Zen state, would I be craving a Costo brownie bite as I am now.

Brownies are manna.

In a manna of speaking.

Wow. What a dive (Olympics are on)!

Seriously, I want a brownie.

If I eat a brownie I will NEVER have the body of a 15-year-old Chinese diver.

But people are starving in China so I should eat the brownie.

Monkey litter.

I'm going to find a brownie.

August 21, 2008 at 7:12 PM

Blogger Abby said...

Mmm.... brownies. I'd totally now be craving brownies except I just had some chocolate cake, courtesy of my husband's family down here in the Puyallup, WA area (nearish to Tacoma).

Thank you both for posting! We're so close to our goal of 10 people. Do you think we can do it? I'm rootin' for ya! Though of course the judging will be hard because they're all great.

And if I had enough I'd give everyone a $10 gc. Of course, if I had that much money, I probably wouldn't have a frugal blog, now would I?

August 21, 2008 at 8:01 PM

Blogger a.b. said...

This isn't an entry, but I just had to add, I suffer from the Gilmore Girls disorder, and I feel bad for my husband. I can't say how many times I've asked him a question that's perfectly logical if you reside in my head and are able to follow my stream of consciousness. Instead I'm usually rewarded with a perplexed look and a correct, if not slightly bewildered answer. Hope I'm not the only one who does that.

August 27, 2008 at 10:56 PM

Blogger Abby said...

a.b. thanks for writing! And this giveaway is over but there will be more, so check back!

I completely suffer from that. Poor Tim. I'll start thinking about something and end by saying something. Especially when it's a matter we talked about a few minutes before (even if we've moved on) I'll just make a random comment and the poor guy has to figure out what on earth I'm talking about.

August 28, 2008 at 10:45 AM


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