The Buddy System

With the financial markets going berserk, oil prices climbing again, HUGE companies visiting Bankruptcy Court (say, bye bye to jobs) everyone’s talking about saving money. And, they’ve got some very bizarre suggestions…

– Use cereal liners for sandwich bags. Personally, if you’re eating enough cereal to cover the kids’ daily sandwich bag needs, here’s an idea: Eat less cereal. That’ll save you tons more.

– A bordello is offering a $100 gas card for a $500 visit. Do I even need to comment on this one?

– Toilet train your cat. Hey, I love cats, I have two, but please. I have a hard enough time keeping up with the current “aim” problems I experience. 

Instead, how about trying the buddy system. You’ve all done it, whether on a school field trip, during a fire drill, or at some Girl Scout or Boy Scout camp out. You and a buddy team up to look out for the other. And what better way to look out for your buddy than to walk hand-in-hand through the financial mess we currently face.

Every week you see tons of B1G1F (buy one get one free) or B1G1 1/2 off deals. Problem is, it’s a big expenditure TODAY for something that might take you months to use or you only need one (shoe stores are famous for the B1G1 1/2 off deals.) So find a buddy. Split the cost. Save the bucks.

Last week my buddy and I bought Oust and Glade (hey, we both have cats) for $1.00 and $.40 respectively.  We, of course, also had coupons. 8)

This week CVS has Maxwell House Coffee as a B1G1F. I don’t drink the stuff, but I know coffee isn’t cheap. And two cans could last like… They do this often with makeup as well – front page ad had two of these plus a B1G1F on batteries. (Christmas is coming…) Vitamins often show up in B1G1F ads and vitamin companies offer $1 off coupons regularly. What all these have in common is sticker shock and a lengthy life span. Which means they really don’t expect you to stock up on these types of items. Let’s face it. An ad without a hit to the bottom line is a manufacturer’s dream.

Find a buddy. Make it their nightmare.

Remember: A Frugal Fiction book? $3.99. Reading to your child 15 minutes a day? Priceless!

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Car Repair$

I just had the privilege of  learning something I would never have known had it not been for a major car failure. (Now, that’s really looking at the glass as half-full…)

Sputter, sputter, stall, chug… Those were the symptoms. Then, the crisis – that orangey-yellow light blaring from the dashboard. A quick check of the service manual and, oh-oh. CHECK ENGINE. Now, we all know what that means. The DEALER. Big bucks. Oh #(&$*&^!!!

Nursing said vehicle to the shop, all horrors played in my mind, most of which had $ signs, lots of $$$$$. And, sure enough, a $1500 bill greeted me. Burned out cylinder. Oh no! One goes, how far behind are the rest… $1500, $3000, $4500.. Cha’ching! Cha’ching! Through my tears I studied the quote. What? Two columns – one MFG  and one STANDARD. MFG said 3.6, STANDARD listed 8.5. Hmm? I sopped up my leaky face and told hubby to find out about this.

Lesson I: MFG lists the hours it takes to do a job IF you are under Warranty. If not, like me, somehow the job takes much longer. In my case, $500 longer. 

This annoyed me, alot! So, we went back in and asked for the service manager, where I clearly explained how that felt to me  – ripped off! At which point he offered an option.

Lesson II: In that lengthy here’s-what-you’re-supposed-to-do-when service manual, they recommended I do X  repair at 105k miles, which is what led to my problem. I only have 80k miles on the car. The dealer contacted the manufacturer, Honda, and guess what. Honda agreed to pay for ALL the repair parts. I only had to pick up the labor. (Personal note: I loved Honda before, I’m beyond love now. That’s standing behind your product!)

Lesson III:  Since Honda was participating in my pain, my repair reverted to MFG hours. So, for $750 I now have a 12k mile or 12 month warranty on what is basically a new engine.

Lesson IV: The dealer knew this problem existed for my vehicle type, but they would have NEVER offered to contact Honda if we hadn’t pursued it. The old me would have forked over $1500 and started planning for when the next cylinder would burn out. Do not be the old me! Ask questions, check your service manual, see if there is some way to lessen your pain. That’s frugal, and in my case, it was worth over $3500.

Remember: A Frugal Fiction ebook? $3.99. Reading to your child 15 minutes a day? Priceless!

Paycheck to Paycheck…

It’s Labor Day. For many, it means the end of summer, the last camping trip of the season. It means the start of school, or school’s first holiday break. It means BBQ’s and family get-togethers. It means an extra day of reprieve from LABOR. At one time (ok, it was long, long, long ago) it even meant the upcoming end to your  Social Security contribution – i.e. a raise for the rest of the year. (This from my Dad. I sure as heck never experienced that phenomenon.)

Except that for many, it doesn’t. Manufacturing jobs went overseas and service positions took their place. These people  are  not enjoying a three day weekend. They’re ringing up our grocery purchases, helping us find size XYZ in chartreuse so we can take advantage of some killer sale price or selling us movie tickets and popcorn so we can escape the heat with a little fantasy. They’re feeding and bathing loved ones in hospitals and hospices. They’re protecting and serving, whether in Iraq or on the city streets. They’re battling Gustav. They’re LABORING. And, many are doing it at paycheck to paycheck wages.

To them I say, “Thank you!” Thank you for taking jobs many don’t want or won’t do. How many of us will take on bed pan duty for minimum wage? Or any wage for that matter. How many of us want to smile sweetly and help that lady (who darn well doesn’t belong in chartreuse) find size XYZ? How many of us want to serve, or have our children serve, in places where landmines, suicide bombers, or methed-up maniacs threaten them daily?

So, I looked for something special I could offer them today and found this article on paycheck to paycheck living. Although not earth shattering info, it did have a statistic that shocked and awed:

“Saving just $25 a week for 40 years with a 5 percent annual yield will give you more than $165,000; at 7 percent, you’d have $286,640,” Francis calculates. “Oh, and double the weekly amount to $50, find a 9 percent return, and you’ll have tucked away [more than $1 million] at the end of 40 years.”

A MILLION bucks? Wow! Which points out what we’ve been talking about here – the positive impact that practicing frugality can have on your life. Walmart gets it. Heard their new ads? They’re all about frugality. One touts that the average American eats pizza once a week. Choose the $8 Walmart brand over $14 for takeout and you can save over $300 a year. A second one tells us we can buy food, party supplies and our outfit at the retailer. The tag line: Save Money, Save Time, Save Gas. Brilliant marketing. Who doesn’t want to do all of that?

So, to all of you, I suggest you budget some (valuable!) time this Labor Day to plan ways to make your paycheck wages go a tad further. After all, you’re gonna need that million bucks for retirement. Social security has become an oxymoron. There’s sure no security in it anymore.  

Remember: A Frugal Fiction book? $3.99. Reading to your child 15 minutes a day? Priceless!!