So, in a recrudescence of my chronic Bag Lady Syndrome, of late I’ve given myself over to obsessing about whether last year’s Required Minimum Drawdown will, when combined with monthly Social Security payments, support me until September.
In 2018 it decidedly did not. The supposed 12 months’ worth drawn down in September 2017 ran out in July, so we had to accelerate my government-mandated impoverishment by 1/6 of the annual supposed budget by withdrawing an extra two months’ worth of living expenses.
God being ever on my side, as we know Her to be, in April I extracted a munificent tax refund from the Feds — having agreed to let Social Security withhold. Four grand!
WonderAccountant, abhorred, advised that I should cancel the tax withholding from Social Security. Luckily, though, I have neither the patience nor the technological savvy to figure out how to do that, so the gummint is still pocketing a slab of my SS income. And that turns out, interestingly, to be a gooooood thing.
As you might guess, Social Security is not what anyone would call a munificent amount to live on. If you’re skilled at living on welfare, you could probably make it. Otherwise you’ll have the gummint send your benefits to your camp under the Seventh Avenue Overpass. But enough comes in from the annual Required Minimum Drawdown from life savings that I can make it through a year by living modestly, month to month. Soooo…that means whatever gets glommed by the IRS and then returned in June or so is…well..yeah… FOUND MONEY!
What it really amounts to is a kind of savings account. It forces you not to spend a proportion of your income, thereby leaving you with a de facto emergency savings account.
And that’s how it will be used this year: Almost all of the four grand will go to extract the damaged tooth, bolt in a post, and attach a decorative, tooth-like cap. While I’m not pleased with having to give away the entire little windfall, I’m surely QUITE pleased with not having to pay that fee out of a poorly endowed cash flow.
This year, as it develops, I’ve been living pretty conservatively, my life contracting as my collection of years expands.
Today I was playing with Excel (when I should have been working for the client, yes, that is true…). Figured out that exclusive of clothing, utilities, insurance, and assorted such nuisances, I’m spending about $1180 a month. Social Security comes to about $1250 a month, but that comes nowhere near covering the bills, over the course of a year.
As a practical matter, base expenses come to around $1580 a month. So in theory there should be plenty to live on, when the RMD is taken into account. But as we know, that spread leaves decidedly NOT enough to live on. There’s the pool repairs. And the routine dentist bills, not even including the exotic endodondistry. The vet bills. The car maintenance bills. And the vet bills. And the increase in the hated Cox bill, for exactly nothing. And the funny little rip-off Cox has added to its bills without telling anyone, and that they take off when you call them up, jump through the goddamn punch-a-button hoops to reach a human, and ask WTF!?!? The plumbing bill. And let us not forget that even Costco’s jeans eventually will wear out and need to be replaced.
Yesterday WonderAccountant — who lives across the street — suggested we go to coffee in the morning and then make a run on the venerable Assistance League thrift store, which was having a 50% off sale.
As you know if you’ve been hanging around this blog for awhile, I like to shop at My Sister’s Closet, an upscale second-hand store where Scottsdale’s finest society matrons consign their designer duds after a single season has passed. The Assistance League store has something of the same appeal: it’s situated on the eastern edge of the North Central district, where Phoenix’s legions of Old Wealth nest. Whether these folks dump their clothes and their household tschotschkes after just a season of use is doubtful — that set tends to be wiser and less spendthrift. They’re riches, but they’re not so much nouveaux riches. They do, however, buy from the same upscale stores, so much so that both shops can dedicate special racks for stuff from Chico’s and by specific selected designers, for example.
So this is always fun.
On Friday I’d dropped $108 on the most spectacular shirt I’ve ever seen (which collected five compliments from fellow churchgoers this morning, BTW), so decided to refrain from further spending. But WonderAccountant was working under no such constraints. She snabbed a really, really handsome shirt, a designer number in a lovely pattern and fabric — two bucks. And a very kewl denim jacket with fancy beadwork front and back — four bucks.
So W.A. reminded me, by example, of what a hoot it is to shop at stores like this.
And I was also reminded of my former next-door neighbor in lovely uptown North Central, one the rare decent human beings I met in that neighborhood during the entire time I lived there. (Richistan, as pretty as its shaded lanes may be, does harbor large herds of extraordinarily unpleasant snobs.)
LaVerne, as we’ll call her here, grew up in a small middle-class town in the Darkest Midwest. The child of a righteous Baptist family, she married a Nice Jewish Boy and, over her parents’ wildest objections, converted to Judaism, and lived happily ever after, pursuing a very conservative faith and lifestyle for her husband and her children. And being a good Midwestern girl, LaVerne was nothing if not thrifty.
LaVerne kept her entire family crisply dressed in the latest styles…and as far as I can tell, never spent a dime on clothing. Here’s how she did it:
Remember Buffalo Exchange? It was a resale shop where you could bring in your used clothing and, if staff thought they could sell the stuff, they’d give you some money for it. I guess they’re still around…I haven’t seen one in these parts of late, but you may have one near you. At the time, there was one right on the fringe of North Central.
Okay. LaVerne would never, ever pay full price for anything. She didn’t even pay sale prices, most of the time: she bought stuff for get this junk out of our store prices. As it develops, in those days department stores (remember those?) changed out their stock every few weeks. Whatever hadn’t moved off the racks went on sale for a couple of weeks. And whatever remained of the end-of-season sale merchandise was moved to an ignoble department in a dank and distant corner of the store, where they practically gave it away. In fact, they probably would pay you to cart it off.
Well, that was exclusively where LaVerne shopped. And she was an exceptionally keen-eyed shopper. Where you or I would go into one of those departments and see only the rayon purple-and-chartreuse polka dots, LaVerne could walk in there and snag very nice, sharp, perfectly acceptable clothing…for everyone in her family. Yes. For herself. For her husband. For her high-school-age son. For her middle-school-age daughter.
Three or four times a year, LaVerne would raid the family closets — after hubby and kids had left for work and school, so as to evade the squawks of dismay. She would strip out everything she’d bought the previous season and schlep armloads of used clothing down to Buffalo Exchange. Most of this stuff, she managed to unload upon them(!). Thus, she’d walk away with cash in her purse…every time.
Whatever she couldn’t foist back onto Buffalo Exchange, she would donate to the Hadassah thrift shop, which of course would give her a fistful of receipts. She and her husband were affluent enough (he owned a custom drapery-making business that provided stuff for Sears and Penney’s as well as individual customers) that they could make use of a charitable deduction.
She now took the cash she’d collected from Buffalo Exchange over to the PLEASE-take-this-junk-away rack at the Dillard’s and the Bullock’s and the several other stores of similar ilk that existed then. And she would refill the family closets.
Everyone in the house was handsomely dressed — nice but not gaudy — and she never spent more than a few dollars on their wardrobes. If she spent that much at all.
She was, in a word, amazing. Truly an amazing woman. ♥
I’ve never attempted to scale those heights of thrift, because I cannot see the wearable clothing on a get-this-outta-here rack. When I go into one of those departments, all I see are the purple-and-chartreuse polka dots. It takes a special skill to find real clothes in those places. And she had it.
But from her I did learn that there are a whole lot of upper-middle-class and wealthy women who never wear their clothing out. Me, I wear it until it falls apart. If it doesn’t fall apart, I wear it while it’s out of style and keep on wearing it until it comes back into style. But the ladies of Richistan? They buy clothing all the time — usually not on sale — and they often don’t keep things more than a few months. I met lawyers’ wives, while I was playing the Society Matron act, who who would never wear a spectacularly expensive designer cocktail dress more than once, lest one of their colleagues recognize it from some previous Junior League or Bar Association shindig.
Yes. They were parodies of themselves. And yes: they really did do that.
One woman, the wife of a successful commercial real estate mogul, would fill up her closet with the current season’s styles and she would move the previous year’s spring (or summer, or fall, or winter) wardrobe over to another closet to be used as gardening and housecleaning garb. When that season was over, out they’d go. Unlike LaVerne, she wouldn’t try to sell discarded clothes at Buffalo Exchange. She would just schlep them straight to the charity society’s store.
So: the message here is that thrift stores near upscale neighborhoods often have very nice, lightly used (sometimes unused, with the price tag still attached) clothing at give-it-away prices. And if you don’t tell, nobody will ever know where you bought that outfit.
No kidding. The man trots out his wife’s nail file gear — the kind of stuff you use for acrylics, not for real fingernails — and demonstrates how to polish up a stainless steel knife.
Well. I figure nothing ventured nothing gained. The knives are already a mess: they couldn’t get much worse. Plus if I f*ck them up some more, it’ll give me an excuse to go out and diddle away $200 on a whole giant set of fancy German knives.
So…fortunately, back in the Day I used to wear bionic nails all the time. In an old disused drawer, what should I still have but a stash of files, abrasive pads, and assorted doodads.
Bear in mind, gents, that all a nail file is is sandpaper affixed to a stiff board. And it comes in many grades. The board makes the stuff highly and easily maneuverable. From the male point of view, the only problem with it is that it too often comes in pink. The way around this, of course, is simply to regard pink as “light red.”
Here we have the entire set of fine tools — slightly used, as I didn’t think about writing this project up until I got pretty far into it.
As you can see, this gear comes in a variety of forms and shapes. The acrylic gunk applied to women’s nails to create fake fingernails dries into a hard surface that is first shaped and then polished to a high sheen with various grades of sandpaper….uhm, nail files. You can get blocks of stuff — that butter-shaped thing, for example — that have a coarse surface applied over a sponge-rubber interior, allowing a great deal of versatility. Some files come with two functional surfaces, one coarser than the other. And that one that’s half pink and half white actually has three grits: a medium and medium fine on the pink-&-white side, and on the reverse side a very fine grade suitable for polishing to a high sheen. Other files, such as that square-cornered number near the top of the board, are very coarse, indeed. But noteworthy: no other products are needed to accomplish this polishing effect.
Well, I had my doubts that this scheme would do much, since steel wool hadn’t done much in the past. But nothing ventured, eh?
So here’s an expensive little fiasco: a badly scratched La Guiole steak knife. Stainless; when new, it was highly polished:
You can see why I’ve been so disgusted that I’m willing to pony up a month’s budget savings to replace my knife collection, eh?
Okay, here’s what we get after a bit of polishing, going from coarsest to finest-grit sandpaper…uhm, nail polish tools.
Hot DAYUM! Not a gouge to be seen!!!
Are they shiny new-as-fresh-out-of-the-box? No. Of course not. They’re a good dozen years old. But neither are they all gouged up. The coarser grade nail file scoured off the scratches from the ill-applied whetstone, and the series of increasingly finer grades polished the blades back up pretty darned well.
When you first apply this technique, you get an alarmingly scratchy surface — final effect is a kind of coarse satin, not a high stainless-steel gloss. Like this:
This Henckels blade, too, was tragically gouged up, with deep scratches running all the way the length of the blade, from tip to hilt. The coarser sandpaper that you start with will seem to make things worse (if that’s possible), even as it buffs off the scratches. But persist: as you apply finer and finer gauges of manicure products — i.e., sandpaper — you get a better and better result. Like these:
I hafta tell you: I am thrilled with the result. Virtually all of the scratches on these things are GONE.
Then we had the issue of the steak knives’ handles.
Those amazingly, mind-bogglingly expensive LaGuiole knives are the real goddamn thing. They are NOT a knock-off. And those handles? Those aren’t plastic. Those are made of horn. The real thing. And trust me, I did not pay a low-rent Sur la Table price for that set.
So you can imagine how charmed I was on the morning after I’d had a half-dozen friends over to dinner, one of whom volunteered to help clean up afterward. Being three sheets to the wind by 11 at night, I failed to pay much attention to what she was merrily dropping into the dishwasher. While I was washing several of the knives by hand, she was tossing the rest of them into the washer with the silverware!
Needless to say, come sunrise I found the handles were wrecked. This was why I haven’t done much or cared much about the scratches, which came later. Trashed handles, gouged blades…why didn’t I just throw them directly into the garbage?
Well, I didn’t because I couldn’t bring myself to do that. And after I got laid off my job, of course I couldn’t afford to buy any other steak knives. So these have had to do.
Seeing that the nail-file treatment removed most of the scratches from the blades, I decided to soak the handles in mineral oil. What the Hell: nothing ventured, nothing gained. While I was at it, I also soaked the walnut handle of that Chicago knife in the center of the above photo, and the sort of maybe-wood handle of the Henckel paring knife on the far left.
Drenched the handles with mineral oil, wrapped them in paper towels, and left them sitting for a couple of hours.
It definitely helped the Chicago knife’s walnut handle. A lot. Don’t think it made much difference for the other ones, though. I’m thinking, however, that it’s possible a coat or two of bowling-alley wax (you remember: Johnson’s wax? do they still make it?) might approximate the original finish on the LaGuiole knives.
At any rate, I account this whole project to be a major success. And now I feel exactly zero craving to buy any new fancy knives.
Let me amend this story to add that I think my son is amazing, in that he’s willing to take on the task of connecting plumbing and installing two expensive pieces of equipment. Where he got this particular kind of bravura escapes me. His dad would never have done such a thing — he believed one of the jobs of money was to pay people to do household and yard tasks. And I tend to go along with that: if I can get someone else to do some skilled or semi-skilled job, I’ll cheerfully bribe them to do it. He must have inherited this tendency from his grandfathers — my father, who was extremely handy; and his dad’s father, who was an engineer.
Ever been here, done this?
Good morning, Vietnam!This is what greeted M’hito as dawn cracked yesterday morning.
The water line to the refrigerator’s ice-maker ruptured. Water inundated the kitchen, flowed down the hall and into a bedroom and a bathroom, and puddled up in the living room.
Fortunately, he was dog-sitting his friends’ very smart little reservation dog — a canine Mexican immigrant — which unlike Charley the Golden Retriever was bright enough to figure something was awry. The dog woke him up about an hour before he normally turns out of the sack. Luckily: otherwise it would’ve been a whole lot worse.
In the ensuing frenzy, as he tried to pull the dishwasher (right next to the fridge) aside to get in under the woodwork and turn off the water valve, he broke the door off the thing!
So…now he had to buy a new Bosch dishwasher.
This fiasco elicited 20 miles of driving to two Lowe’s outlets, purchase of the new machine, and another trip to a hardware store to buy the correct fittings to replace the wrong ones sold by Lowe’s. Ain’t it fine?
When I left his house — around 8 p.m. — he was about to climb back under the kitchen sink to try to attach and install the new dishwasher, which we hauled home in the back of my truckoid. And reattach the refrigerator. As of this morning, said strategy had yet to work.
Would he buy this fine device from the appliance store around the corner, where the owners are honest, the staff know what they’re talking about and will tell you the truth with no BS, and they’ll come and install the thing? Heck, no! Lowe’s had the desired model on clearance… How could any sane person turn it down???
😀 Kid’s a chip off the old cheapskate block…
From what I can tell, the refrigerator water line, which was made of some sort of nylon stuff rather than the preferable twisted-steel stuff, became abraded when the fridge was moved briefly. It picked the wee hours of the morning to fail.
The dishwasher was 12 or 14 years old — about twice its engineered lifetime. But still…yipes! One would like having a choice as to when to buy a new appliance.
Fortunately, the house is all tiled. Saltillo tile is usually installed without baseboards, or else with a row of tiles cut in thirds and mortared to the wall. The house’s walls are lath and plaster (!!!!). Directly above the floor is a sturdy foundation of what M’hijito says is wood but what I believe to be metal, at least in places (could be wood, but not like the junk we get today). The plaster extends over it, and 65 years of paint jobs have sealed it in. When he wasn’t looking, I inspected and couldn’t see that it was seriously damaged — fortunately, the dogs rousted him soon enough that he was able to mop up the puddles before the water soaked into the walls. I think.
Also fortunately, because the AC system doesn’t work efficiently, he has boatloads of fans, including one of those things that clean-up crews use to blow-dry saturated carpets. So by the time I got there yesterday afternoon, the floors were pretty well dry.
Man! When he told me this story I was thinking “homeowner’s claim…won’t the insuror be thrilled…” But it now looks like no damage was done to the structure
Lordie, but the employees at Lowe’s here in Phoenix are freaking incompetent!
He looked up the desired model online and ascertained that a Lowe’s way to Hell & gone up the I-17 had one in stock. We get there. We diddled around with a guy who seemed sweet despite lacking a few IQ points, paid to buy the thing, pulled the car up to the door…only to be told…well, no. That wasn’t the right model.
So we had to get a refund, drive even FURTHER up the I-17 to a Lowe’s in Whiteyville, a flight-induced suburb almost to freaking Anthem, where…well, yeah. We found the desired washer.
He now buys that and new plumbing connections for both the washer and the fridge. We load the machine into my truckoid and stagger away through the rush hour traffic (all of this travel has been going on during the height of rush hour, which, on the homicidal streets of Phoenix, is a steroid-driven species of Hell). Get back to his place frazzled but still living.
He now endeavors to reattach the fridge and finds — of course — that the line they sold him is too short.
It’s getting late. Our regular Ace Hardware is closed, but one is open down in Gang Central, an area that is, shall we say, the direct inverse of Whiteyville, that which all those pallid types have fled. There we find a couple of guys who sound like they know what they’re doing. They sell him a longer connection.
By the time we get back, it’s after 8 p.m. He throws me out and, as I exit the front door, climbs under the kitchen sink to (he hopes) reconnect the appliances.
All I have heard this morning is “it didn’t work.” He’s back at the office. And presumably he has no dishwasher. Is the fridge running? I dared not ask.
He left the office at 3 yesterday, falling behind in a busy work schedule. So now he’s back at the office with no functioning dishwasher. The fridge, of course, will run without an icemaker; I hope he plugged that thing back in and left it operating.
Meanwhile, yesterday it was 113, with 20% humidity. Nice timing, eh?
Here is, I believe, the Funny about Money frugalista message to be gleaned for that adventure:
Spring for the cost to have the seller install an appliance!When you think about how much one of these contraptions costs, $60 or $100 to have it delivered and installed is a bargain. More to the point, compare your own hourly wage against what it will cost to pay a handyman to come clean up after you and put the thing in right.
Even if you don’t make all that much, remember to add in your job’s benefits: those are likely to jack up your pay above the cost of having a new dishwasher, refrigerator, or stove delivered and installed. I don’t know how many hours my son spent before he gave up last night — likely at least a couple. But by 8 p.m. he’d been pounding around for five hours, dealing with this fine flap. Now, admittedly, that did entail driving to two Lowe’s outlets. But we were back at his house by dinner time — around 5 or 6 p.m. So figure he put in at least five of his hours — and had to take two or three hours off work for the privilege.
It would not have cost five hours’ worth of his time to pay someone to deliver and install the machine. Figure he makes about what I used to earn: $40 an hour (probably more like $45 now), plus another $10.41/hour for the panoply of benefits: $50.41 an hour. Not counting the aggravation factor…
So say it took two hours to buy the machine, leaving three hours of screwing around: it costs him $151.23, and he still doesn’t have a functioning kitchen. Lowe’s declines to publish its installation fee online, but in 2016 they were building a reputation for gouging. But even at $200, that’s still only $50 more than the value of his time. IMHO he would do better to hire a handyman to install it — my guy would charge about $60.
This, of course, is why I personally will not buy appliances at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Up around the corner on Gangbanger’s Way is a local appliance store that treats its customers fairly and delivers professional service.
But that notwithstanding:
If you have a paying job, DIY appliance installation is probably a false economy. The value of your time is more than what it would cost to have someone who can do the job quickly and smoothly. And that doesn’t even count the physical and psychological cost of the stress and frustration the job entails.
So before choir starts, along about the end of August, I’ve got to get the hair trimmed. My long-time stylist, the ineffable and much-beloved Shane, charges $80 for the privilege. And that is marvelously incompatible with the present Anchorite Budget.
Turns out there are several beauty schools in town where you can get your hair coifed for a very modest price. Appears to be in the range of $10 or so. One of them is right up the street, amazingly enough!
About $260 is left to live on until the end of the month — and we’re only at the 13th of said month. Just about every regular bill is paid, including the exorbitant power and water bills. Today I’ll pick up about $20 worth of items from Costco, but those also are, in effect, already “paid for”: their cost will be covered by the $80 remaining on the CC cash card I bought two weeks ago, leaving a $60 remainder on that card.
Gasoline is similarly already “paid for” with a dedicated Costco cash card. I’ve only used about half a tank of gasoline so far — which I paid for with a credit card before the “cash card envelope” scheme came to mind, so there’s a good chance I’ll only use about $30 of the $60 I put on the Costco gasoline card. In fact that’s just another Costco cash card, so in a pinch some of the “gas” budget could be used on food or other necessaries from Costco. But truth to tell, I don’t see that happening.
In theory, I probably could afford to pay Shane eighty bucks to trim the magnificent locks. But that presumes no emergency or extraordinary costs arise between now and the end of the month.
Drive out to Scottsdale and spend an hour socializing with Shane, and you know what’ll happen?
•The car’s battery will die. Oh, heck, no: it’ll probably explode. • The toilet will plug intractably. • All five electric fans in the house will quit running at once. • The dog will eat a dead bird and develop ptomaine poisoning. • Gerardo will figure out where the leak is in the irrigation system and rack up a $350 bill to fix it. • The microwave will short out and fill the house with smoke. • The dishwasher will grind to a halt and flood the kitchen with hot soapy water.
All of those will happen. Trust me: I know. And peals of divine and angelic laughter will be heard echoing down from someplace behind the Pearly Gates.
God and Her Angels have a twisted sense of humor.
The last time my hair was this long — about halfway down to my waist — I was much younger and could trim it myself. In those days, we had mirrors that would allow me to see the backside of my bod’, which made it possible to manipulate hair and scissors by myself. And I could reach the backside of the bod’. That is not so much the case in my dotage.
Used to cut it in three or four layers, progressively longer from the inside to the outer, surface layer. This would make it tend to curve under, in a kind of natural page-boy. But it was shorter then. At its present length, layering it would be redundant. Besides, I wear it up most of the time. At this point, all I really want is to get the split ends trimmed off, so as to make it easier to comb.
I’ve never had my hair done at one of those beauty schools, mostly because I don’t trust some budding stylist not to screw it up. Professionals have screwed it up so many times, why would I trust a kid? And of course, because I’ve had Shane. For many, many years. But at this point the hair is so long that even if she cut off two inches in the course of dorking it up, I could run back to Shane and have him fix it.
In that case, I’d have to pay $90 instead of $80 for the privilege of getting rid of the split ends. And he’d probably cut off an ear, too… 😉
It’s just not that hard to do a blunt cut.
But then….a lot of things are not that hard. And look what happens with them…
Long hair on an elderly woman is an eccentric luxury. Most older women wear their hair short: first, because that is what is expected; second (I imagine), because it’s easier to dye or bleach “blonde”; and third, because they (incorrectly) imagine it’s easier to care for.
•I never do what is expected. My philosophy of life is keep ’em confused!
• I do not apply any chemicals other than shampoo and conditioner (and water) to my hair.
• And long hair is ridiculously easy to deal with. Very short hair is also easy to care for, except that it has to be trimmed every six or eight weeks, which amounts to a gigantic and expensive PITA.
My mother hated her hair. She used to permanent it and dye it and even sometimes cover it with wigs. Turns out that was amazingly…weird.
When she was dying (as in “RIP,” not as in “don’t it make my gray hair brown?”) — a process that took some long, grim months — she was in so much pain she couldn’t sit up long enough to have her hair cut. She certainly couldn’t ride in the car to the salon, and she couldn’t have sat in a chair long enough, either, even if my father had thought of hiring a stylist to come to the house to cut it. Which of course he did not. So over that time, her hair grew out to about shoulder length.
And in the nursing home where we finally had to take her when my father could no longer cope, the staffers would occasionally coo to me, “Oh, her hair is sobeautiful!” They marveled at its wavy heft.
As it develops, once it grew out her hair was almost exactly like mine, except for the color. She had thick, naturally wavy hair.
It was a dull mousey color by this time — she was 64. Starting some years before, it had gone to mostly gray, no doubt because of her excessive smoking. And heredity, I imagine. Her mother was blonde until she got scarlet fever in her twenties, which caused all her hair to fall out; it grew back in very dark. Her grandmother and aunt were natural platinum blondes whose hair went straight to white without pausing at gray. I always believed she damaged it with the hair dye and especially with the harsh permanent solutions. It was pretty frizzy until it grew out…and turned into a faded version of mine.
Like my father, in my old age I’m only just beginning to go gray. My father, who was largely Native American, had black hair. Well. He called it “brown” by way of passing for white, but you and I would call it “black. ” It stayed dark until he was 80 years old. In his late 70s his hair was just slightly graying at the temples. After he had his heart attack, at the age of 80, he did get a lot more gray. But…at 80, I don’t suppose you’d need a heart attack to achieve gray hair.
My hair is chestnut brown with red and blonde highlights — still, after all these years! Now it has a few silver highlights, too.
So if those women thought my mother’s faded mouse-brown hair was “beautiful,” mine must be pretty awesome, eh? 😀
Getting rid of stuff feels so good!Out with it! Seriously: one tried and true frugalist strategy is simply not to buy things you don’t really need. Another, though, is getting rid of stuff that you no longer need. (Or…ahem…maybe never needed in the first place.)
Case in point: the beloved Pawley Island hammock that has resided in the backyard since I moved into this place. Actually, I bought it in the old house, quite some years before I moved out. Since I was there about 12 or 14 years, I’d probably had it there about 8 or 10 years. That house had park-like landscaping full of mature trees, and so I could hang it between a big old olive tree and a silk oak, one of the messiest trees known to personkind.
Loved loafing in that hammock. Once it came over here, though, I had no place to hang it. Satan and Proserpine (the previous owners) were great at DIY interior redecorating, but they simply did not know what to do with any space not under roof. The backyard had almost no trees. So I bought one of those arc-shaped hammock stands. Like this…
Expensive as all get-out. Took three men and a horse to put it together. Too heavy to move without said three men and the horse. But once in place, it worked fine.
I’ve been in this house for 14 years now. So…that hammock lasted about twenty years before it finally rotted in the sun and rain and fell apart under my weight. No kidding. This: a couple weeks ago. No problem hauling off the hammock. But the wooden stand itself was a challenge.
Thought about replacing the hammock, to the tune of $150. Then thought…why?
Gerardo came by Saturday with his crew. They were happy to take it away. They did deconstruct it (the only way they could get it into their truck). Whether they’ll reconstruct it, I don’t know. But with four guys there, I expect one of them will cheerfully accept the donation.
SDXB used to say that throwing out stuff he was no longer using made him feel lighter. And there’s something to that. In the old house, the thing hung over a patio, so I could walk up to it bare-footed. Here, it stood in the middle of a field of quarter-minus. That’s very fine gravel. It pokes your feet, and if that doesn’t poke your feet, the sharp debris the devil-pod tree drops surely will. So to lay on the hammock, first I had to put my shoes on! Since I’m usually barefoot in the house, shoes are usually lost somewhere. Having to track them down made hammock-swinging more trouble than it was worth.
Hence, the contraption’s near-abandonment.
I’m so glad to get that thing out of there. Even though it served its purpose, it took up a phenomenal amount of room. The dogs would go in behind it to do their business, meaning I would have to climb in behind it to clean up after them. One fewer thing to have to take care of! The yard looks better without the clutter, and now there’s nothing over there for the hose to get caught up on.
Deciding to get rid of the arc stand, which was approaching decrepitude, too, meant I saved a hundred and fifty bucks.
No. Make that more like three hundred bucks. The stand itself was getting pretty weather-beaten and would soon need replacing…and those things cost $150, sans hammock.
There’s no way I’d get another $300 worth of use out of a new hammock and new fancy stand. At the old house, I certainly got my money’s worth out of the hammock. But here, for the reasons above, I’ve rarely used it.
How does that translate into a general Frugality Rule of Thumb?
Well, when something gives up the ghost, delay replacing it. Don’t hurry right out and buy a new one right this minute. Put off a new purchase long enough to see whether you can comfortably do without the thing. Maybe you really don’t need it. Maybe you really don’t want it.