home life, money, natural living, shopping

July Financials

I realized that every month I would itemize my spending, then post here saying “I also had a big expense of ____, but that is an annual thing so I didn’t include it.” This month is no exception. It seems like my big bills are staggered, thankfully, but there is almost one every month. House insurance twice, county taxes, car insurance twice, city taxes, etc etc.

I also realized that I am very conscious of how I spend my money. As long as I keep my fast food consumption in check, I do fine each month. And in July, I only ate out once – ordering pizza one night when I was too exhausted to do anything else.

This month I invested money in eco-friendly products for home and work. I will talk about them after I have tried them out and can thoughtfully review them. I am hoping these purchases will save money in the long run and of course make much less waste.

As a result of all my money-thinking, I am going to stop my monthly recaps. I will still hold myself accountable and occasionally address spending in my weekly round ups, but I would like to stop focusing so heavily on money on the blog and in real life, and turn my focus now to creating less waste.

money, reading, shopping

Spending with Calypso

In his latest book Calypso, David Sedaris has a quote that stuck with me.

Disclaimer: David Sedaris is probably my favorite author. Top three if not number one. So much of Calypso made me laugh, and think, and compare to my own life. He is humorous, but he is also very thoughtful and reflective.

The quote that got me isn’t really funny, and it has probably been said by countless other people, but I had never heard it and it struck a chord with me.

“I’m not just a vehicle for my wallet!”

He says this in a short piece about how people, especially retail clerks, airline workers, hotel staff, etc, ask the same generic questions to everyone all day long, and don’t really listen to the answer.

Of course this is necessary – you want to seem friendly to your customers but you do it all day every day and can’t push yourself to get to know someone, nor do you have time to have more than a limited interaction. But Sedaris talks about the random questions he asks to start a conversation, and how they usually fall flat with these people.

He is quite quirky.

This quote made me think about buying things in person. You can still be upsold online, with ads like “Based on your viewing history, you might like:” or “People who bought what you just bought also bought:”. But it’s impersonal online anyway. In a store, especially drugstores, clerks try to sell you whatever little trinket they have next to the cash register, or ask you to donate to the charity of the week. (Not knocking charities, but I like to donate directly to them and don’t like being guilted about being stingy with my dollar at the drugstore.) Bigger stores ask you to sign up for their membership card or buy a warranty. Whether you do or not is your business, but the Sedaris quote made me think of all that differently. Honestly, I’m still thinking about it… I know spending your money is a way to “vote” so to speak, and that idea really tangles with this quote in my mind. I like it.

(All that being said, this was shortly after a piece where Sedaris describes buying countless ill-fitting, ugly, overpriced clothes just because he likes going shopping and buying things, so I guess we can take the quote with a grain of salt! I just like pulling it out to think over on its own.)

home life, money

Living Without A/C: Part 2

I left off with everyone wondering: Did she turn on the air conditioning? Did she turn on the A/C?

I heard you.

And yes, I’ve turned it on by now. Remember I was suffering at 78 degrees on May 2nd, at 10pm? I thought nights were supposed to be cooler, but… that doesn’t happen so much around here. Keeping my bedroom window open worked for 2 nights, but I just couldn’t cool down.

One night in early May I was in bed, staring up at my ceiling, willing myself to cool down… and I spotted that switch on my ceiling fan. I remember learning that you could flip the switch to use fans in winter to keep the warm air circulating, but I didn’t remember doing it.

Google to the rescue! Ceiling fans should turn counter-clockwise to cool the room, and clockwise to keep it warm. I had to stop my bedroom fan and start it again to see which way the blades were spinning.

Clockwise!

I turned it off again, waited until it stopped spinning (crucial step), and flipped the switch. Once the dust started flying off the blades (shame my housekeeping skills!), I vaguely remembered switching it for winter – because dust flew off then, too.

I tiptoed into my sleeping son’s warm oven of a room, staring up at his ceiling fan. Counter-clockwise, but it was so warm I stopped it, flipped the switch, and gave it a shot. Not much difference, but I put it back the way it was. I’m pretty sure it was on the cool setting.

My two new ceiling fans were off since the house was hunkered down for sleep, but I started them up – one was going counter-clockwise, but the other had to be changed.

The fan in the back room is the heartiest I’ve ever seen – it keeps that room as cool as the inside of a refrigerator. I knew it was spinning correctly.

The house got a lot cooler after that. It was too warm to keep windows open, but the fans alone kept the house at 76 or 77 degrees every day. Sometimes, in the mornings, it was downright cool. Not too shabby.

On May 7th, my son and I visited my parents’ house. As we approached, I could tell the windows were shut tight. I knew what that meant – their A/C was on!

Sure enough, they had turned it on before the extra-warm weekend hit. I mistakenly thought their goal had always (since my childhood) been to make it until June 1st, but Mom told me it was May 1st, with the crazy heat we get. Both parents seemed impressed we hadn’t turned our air on yet.

As soon as we got home, I turned on the fans. It was pretty warm. I glanced at the thermostat. 78. Did I want to live like this? Nahhh. Besides, I had beat out my parents, and they acknowledged my sacrifice (shhh – let me have this!). So I turned on the air on the evening of May 7th. Quite far from my original (misguided) June 1st deadline, but the house sure is comfortable now.

My new heating and cooling system is efficient and cut down my utility bills. Plus the ceiling fans still help – they keep the house cool enough that I don’t need the A/C on very high. Right now it’s at 77 and I’m at my desk with a fan swirling above me, and the breeze is a little cool!

I haven’t looked into how much it costs to run a ceiling fan (or multiple ceiling fans), or how much it costs compared to running the A/C. So we’ll check out that utility bill at the end of the month and report back.

fun, home life, money, shopping

Tax Refund!

Before we even did our taxes, my husband asked what I wanted to spend our tax refund on. He wanted a new grill, and probably some other things. I, of course, wanted to put it into savings. And probably still will. But it made me daydream about…

An upgraded camera body

A macro lens

A home studio setup

New books to read

A trip to somewhere relax

A camping trip

New tattoos

A fancy, delicious dinner out

A fun evening bowling, snacking, drinking, eating

 

Did you get a tax refund this year?

money, shopping

Online Shopping

I will admit it – I am addicted to online shopping.

I know this space is all about saving money and not having things, so that’s a weird thing to admit. Except I don’t mean that I overspend or indulge when I shop online. I am just addicted to the convenience.

I use Amazon Subscribe and Save for almost all of my household goods. I get toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner delivered every few months. I get toilet paper delivered every month. I get bags of coffee beans and cleaning supplies. Subscribing means I get a small discount on each purchase, which probably makes it a good deal, but I’m sold on the fact that it comes to my door on (or around) the same date each month, and I don’t have to think about it. To me, it’s like having your bills set on autopay – you know it’s going to get done, so you can put it out of your mind.

Every so often I get online and look at my subscriptions to change the frequency or get rid of one altogether. I only get what we need, and it’s easier for me than getting it all from a store – and probably a bit cheaper, especially with Prime shipping.

I need to research the shipping aspect, though. How much am I damaging the environment by having a big box of supplies shipped to me via plane or truck every month? Is it better than driving my car to the store every month, and possibly driving back for what I forgot? I’m not sure, but right now, with everything on my mind, it’s worth knowing these necessities are taken care of without any effort. I still go to the grocery store every two weeks for our food, and can pick up anything extra there, but it’s less of a hassle.

Do you do Subscribe and Save, or order most of your stuff online? Do you think you spend more or save more this way?

fun, money

Joining

When I think of memberships, I usually think of unused gym memberships, or memberships to big box stores. I’ve never had a gym membership (which should probably not be a point of pride for my out-of-shape self…), and I dislike the idea of paying a store to allow you to spend money there. They may have great deals, and I’ve shared memberships with family or friends in the past, but overall, I disagree with spending money to spend more money.

Having a kid has made me think of memberships in a different way. Joining an organization you approve of and enjoy is a great way to show your support. It’s also a great way to save money! My son LOVES the Children’s Museum of Memphis. I loved it as a kid, but you can only go if you’re with a kid, so it had been a long time between visits for me! They often have special events – fun and educational, and they have a splash pad in summer. Now they have a refurbished carousel, which is gorgeous and a fun ride.

The downside was, it cost $20 per person per visit. That is EXPENSIVE! But the museum is a nonprofit, and I have a soft spot for nonprofits. I remember it from my childhood, and my son loves it. We were gifted a membership, and I am so thankful for it! A year-long membership for 4 guests is $140. That is cheaper than paying for 4 guests to visit twice. HUGE savings! The membership prices and benefits for the Memphis Zoo is pretty similar, and it’s also a nonprofit. Bonus: having a membership means free parking at both of these places! That’s a savings of $5 per visit!

The benefits to memberships like these when you have kids are so numerous. You’re saving money and time – instead of paying almost $100 per visit and having to stay for hours and hours to feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth, you can pop in and out for a shorter period of time. You can stop by one day after school, just for fun. You’re saving money and giving your kids (and your family) more time to have fun together and more ways to learn together.

home life, money, shopping

Canvas Bags

I couldn’t do yesterday’s post and NOT make today about Canvas Bags! They’re famous!

I keep several canvas bags and reusable grocery bags in my trunk. Sometimes I even remember to take them into the store with me.

I most often use them to haul my library books around, but I’m trying to be more conscious about taking them in to the grocery store with me.

cfavecanvas
My favorite canvas bag.

I’m so glad stores here have started putting bins for plastic bags in the entry. I’ve always used those as trash bags in my small kitchen and bathroom trash cans, but I know it’s still not great to use them at all since they never really biodegrade.

Do you have canvas bags? Do you use canvas bags? Are you currently singing “Canvas Bags”?

I am.