Coffee heat rising

Planning to be poor

Over the next few days, I need to write out a plan for how I’m going to survive on a fraction of my income, which I expect I’ll have to do after the Board of Regents meets and Our Beloved Leader engineers the opportunity to declare a state of financial emergency so he can make all who are the likes of me redundant.

I’ve already figured out that it’s possible (not easy) to get by on Social Security and a tiny freelance income without moving out of my home. To do it, though, I’ll have to change my shopping, eating, and living habits in a big way. Today I won’t have time to work out the details—have to learn a new (to me) program that I’ll need for the full-time freelancing mode. But I have some ideas for the general shape of the thing:
-Identify items that I can buy in bulk at Costco, Sprouts, and co-ops.
?Compare prices of these items with prices in Walmart and Target. If items items of comparable quality can be had cheaper, get over the revulsion for Walmart and buy the stuff there.
-Get a great deal more serious about vegetable gardening
-Start collecting & clipping coupons. Learn the trick of getting goods cheaply at CVS and Walgreen’s.
-Identify specific classes of household goods (such as detergents) that can be purchased at yard sales.
-Get a room air-conditioner installed in the bedroom ASAP, while there’s still some money to do it.
-Identify two or three thrift stores in or near upscale neighborhoods. Check them out to see what kinds of stuff they carry and what prices will be like.
-Turn off the watering system (it needs to go off for the winter, anyway). Plug all the drippers around xeriscapic plants.
-Identify things that can be yard-saled or sold on Craig’s List.
-Cut the present budget to reflect the amount I will have post-layoff. Bank savings to use as “cushion” in checking account.

So it goes. Maybe I can sell the junk around the house for enough to pay for the room air-conditioner. . .

10 thoughts on “Planning to be poor”

  1. You might be able to sell, trade or barter some of your citrus too. Either down at the Farmer’s market or right from the yard.

  2. I have been frugal by choice for a long time…so I already do many of these things.

    Free at CVS or Walgreens: very easy. Check out the ad (on-line) for cvs. For Walgreens, see their “Easy-saver” catalog, also on-line or in store.

    Coupons: I find these a pain and don’t use them. I go to Costco once a year or so and buy tons of cheese. For other stockpiling, check out the food at Big Lots, if you have one. Lots of organic, etc.

    Since you too are a scholar, I’d suggest you check out the price of some of the books you have lying around. Some out-of-print scholarly books can fetch a pretty penny on Amazon. I made perhaps $20,000 over 5 years on some of my unwanted books. Selling on Amazon is very easy.

    Just type in the isbn on Amazon and see what the used prices are. Good for cds also.

    For detergent etc–keep an eye on Walgreens ads. I got enough detergent for a year for about $5!

  3. I don’t know the mechanics of the whole Drug Store Game and Grocery Game thing but that might be something to look into. My sister does the Grocery Game and says, at this point, she could go a few months without going to the grocery story at all because it gets you stocked up. Maybe you could get stocked up while you are still working and then coast for awhile! Good luck.

  4. Absolutely Big Lots goes on the list…there’s one a few miles across town. I’ve never been to it but definitely will check it out!

    Never thought about checking out Amazon to peddle the ancient books. Good idea. Years ago, a collector had an agent call me and ask to buy my (now really ancient) bound leaflets of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific at an outrageous price. Thinking they must be so valuable I should pass them down to my son, I foolishly failed to take them up on the offer. One never knows, though: maybe someone else out there would like to pay a stupid price for them. 🙂

    My vice is Costco. The idea of going there once a year is interesting: make a gigantic list, stock up en masse, and buy the stuff very rarely. But of course, that would entail saving up enough cash a year’s worth (or at least several months’ worth) at once. What if you pretended you lived way out in the sticks and could only come into town (i.e., Costco) about once every month or six weeks? If you lived on a farm or in a very rural community, you’d have a freezer. What would it cost to pick one up off Craig’s List or at an estate sale… With a place to store veggies and meats (many fewer meats than I’ve been used to eating…), I ceratinly could limit the Costco runs to once a month.

  5. Funny,

    When I say look into selling books you don’t want, I’m not talking about “collector’s items” like your bound leaflets. I’m talking about regular books–example, I had two copies of Allegory of Love. Sold one for twenty-something a few years ago; it was out of print at the time I believe.

    Collectibles are a different thing–harder to get a fair price.

  6. Fabulous plan. I’m in the same boat, planning to be poor, so your list was inspiring. I want to second (or third) what other people have said about Amazon. I’ve made significant change selling books on Amazon. I’m an academic as well, and cruise the dumpsters when the students move out in the spring. It is a fantastic source of newish books, as the spoiled darlings dump boxloads. It isn’t the textbooks so much (they sell those back to the bookstore), it is the other books they dump. Thanks for your post.

  7. If you really want to live economically, get rid of your car. We lived in Phoenix for three years without a car. Saved tons of money on insurance, repairs and gasoline. I bought a monthly bus ticket and went to one nearby grocery store once a month for a big grocery shopping and took a taxi home. Although I have to say I wouldn’t recommend just using any taxi company. Many of the drivers are complete jerks. Rode my bike to the store that was less than two miles away once a week to pick up supplemental groceries.

Comments are closed.