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A Year in the Life

When did Dogs or Dollars start? Thats a hard question to answer. Maybe not hard. Squishy. A squishy question to answer. A year ago I was a gal with a neglected blogspot address. Something I’d fiddled with from time to time since shortly after The Leap in 2009. 2009 seems like a really long time ago. ‘Dogs or Dollars?’ the question started even before that. In 2008. When Corporate America laid my ass off. For nearly four years I’ve been wrestling with these choices. First kicked to the curb by my Corporate Masters, then trying and succeeding (to varying degrees) to claw my way away. Four years.

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I’ve only been talking to you for one. The bulk of it from the above location. With my return to servitude (not a success really), I rid myself of one of two jobs (the one I liked of course) and thought “Hey, I’ve got some free time. Let’s start that blog again!” Here’s when I thought it. That was also about the time I thought “Hey, let’s start a garden!”, “Hey, let’s can some food!”, “Hey, I bet the dogs wouldn’t really eat chickens!” Turns out I was right about that last thing. Whew. All of that. All of it. One year and 300 posts ago. Today. Read more

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How To Lower Your Grocery Bill

Everyone knows I’m a big fan of The How-To. Just usually not when I write them, but this topic, this one I can cover. You disagree? You’ve seen my grocery spending? True, True. $750 not withstanding, I’ve got the principles down. How does that go again? Shop loss leaders! Buy Generic! Coupons! Have a list! Comparison Shop! Keep a price book! The Grocery Outlet! Buy in Bulk! Buy Seasonally! Preserve Food! Grow Your Own! I could put that to music and do a little jig. Or maybe write some iambic pentameter. I know it by heart.

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My fridge. With it’s non-minimalist front and un-frugal contents.

Because I do those things. All the time. Don’t believe me? I understand. We’re still talking $750 here. Its a big number for 2 people. Even the times I’ve lowered it by a whopping $100, no one is impressed. Nor should they be. $650, also a very large number. When I ruminate on sacred cows and lowering my overhead, the grocery budget is a glaringly obvious money sinkhole. It is the beacon of overspending in my landscape of frugality. Wow. That felt really Gunslinger-ish.
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Leaving the Dogs at Home

Inevitably, we all travel. Few of us are fortunate enough to be able to do that with canines in tow. There are options. All the usual suspects: Boarding facilities (traditional and resort style), friends and neighbors, or the professional petsitter.

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Another use for those fabulous chalkboard pens, clearly labeling dog supplements for the petsitter.

With my menagerie, boarding isn’t actually an option. For a variety of reasons. It would cost me a not-so-small fortune, even with any sort of ‘group discount’. Also, I am the proud owner of a couple overly sensitive dogs (who shall remain nameless). The stimulation of a kennel environment would very likely push them round the bend. Since, I’d rather avoid that, and I’m such a big fan of my money, we choose a petsitter. The poor woman. Read more

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Money Saving Monday: Greatest Hits

We are approaching a milestone at Dogs or Dollars. A significant milestone. Actually, I’m not sure it could be a milestone if it were insignificant. Anyway, whatever. The passing of time has occurred, and with it I’ve shared a number of my ‘money saving’ tips. Today, I thought we could review ‘em. Which ones do I still use? And which are total bullshit? Because as a blogger, sometimes it is just total bullshit. Like when you needlessly identify a milestone as significant.

Despite my propensity for crap, here’s ways I’m still saving the money. On Monday or any of it’s six closest friends.

Clotheslines. Indoors, always. With the recent addition of an outdoor facility.

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Finding a workable model for our yard took considerable brainstorming. The Husband fashioned this out of supplies from the garage, leftover from The Chicken House, and stolen from the yards of friends. That Husband. What a guy. Read more

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Growing Potatoes in Burlap: A Review

This is my first year with most things dirt and garden and growing. Ugly Garden officially started last year, but she was, shall we say unsophisticated? The focus was on ‘can we do this?’ rather than ‘how much food can we produce?’. This year we moved a little closer to the latter. There were diagrams and plans. We promptly ran out of room for everything we wanted to grow. Enter: Potatoes in burlap.

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Cheap supplies. Small footprint. Easy harvest and cleanup. Depending on who you read, it also encourages better airflow in the roots, keeping your spuds disease free. If it works. When you are googling all the ways to do something, the horror stories usually aren’t what pop to the top of the search results. Somewhere between when I planted these back in late March and well before I harvested a single potato I read Erica’s Total Potato Fail over at Northwest Edible Life. Concerned. Definitely, concerned.
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Bridging the Gap with Sacred Cows

Last week I wrote about my new, improved (much smaller) budget. A budget to based not on what we currently make, but what I would like to make. A budget of one income, and a lesser one at that.

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Isn’t that great!? Look at me go with my less monies! Small problem: It doesn’t work. There’s a gap. I can either reduce one income significantly or I can eliminate another income entirely. But, I can not do both. I mean, I can. In theory. With that money I could then feed the dogs, and maybe get some food for us too. That’d be about it. I couldn’t afford life’s trivial things like oh say… gas, household expenses, holidays, medical care, or have any slush fund to speak of. I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say that’s not a workable budget.

I’ve been mucking around with how to fix that. A lot. With mixed results. Read more

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The Cure for the Picky Eater

I’m referring to dogs here.(I can not help you with your children.) Dogs who won’t eat. It’s completely contrary to our image of the average chow hound. And totally maddening. You cajole. You entice. You cook. You change things up. You top. You soak. You stir. You waste money. You waste time. At best, success is usually occasional and fleeting.

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Jaime is as close as we get to a finicky eater in this house. He’s not a fan of rabbit or certain vegetables.
You’d never know it.

In my experience, which I’ve talked to a whole lot of people with this problem over the years, there are two types of picky pups: Those with a breed issue and those with an owner issue. Read more

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Money-Saving Monday: On-Call

On good days, I harbor a mild dislike for my job. I make sarcastic remarks about the idiocy of it all to power me through my day. On bad days though, no amount of sarcasm will do. On days when I spend four hours on a conference call for something I am powerless to fix (but I’m expected to anyway). On days when the work follows me home. When I am talking to my senior manager at 9:30pm for no.good.reason. When I have to tell The Husband for the third time in as many days to make no social plans, and I do mean none. Well, most of the time when that happens, I am on-call.

One week. Of hell. Of knowing where you phone is every second of everyday. That means while you sleep. While you eat. When you are in the shower. All of it. Where is the damn phone?

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Once upon a time I wrote a love note to my Corporate Overlords. I should go back and re-read that more often than I do. Like right now. In that spirit, let me recount how being on-call is a very nice substitute for a no-spend week. How’s that for thinking positive? Read more

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Sunday Spending: Still Buying Eggs

But just barely.

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The little pile on my counter ebbs and flows. The Ladies got started, then slacked off in the hot weather. Can’t say as I blame them. We are closing in on a 3 a day average. I bought one dozen eggs last week. One dozen this week. We usually buy at least two. They’ll get going just in time to slow down for the fall.

Oh, right the groceries. We did better this week than in weeks prior. Due to extenuating circumstances. I’ll go into that tomorrow. The eggs helped. Read more

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