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Winning & Losing & Paying Attention

So much of what we do in this lifestyle – day to day attempts to manage our dollars and our lives responsibly – so much of it is just our best attempts. Sometimes those work out. Sometimes they crash and burn. If you’re lucky, you break even somewhere between the two.

Exhibit A: $50 and a flyer from Whole Foods, with which I am demonstrating two of the three principles found in the above title. Read more

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Combat as a Consumer

I have expensive taste. It may seem contrary to the image of cheap bastard extraordinaire I cultivate. However, it’s true. And its my cross to bare. Why buy a print, when you can get the original artwork? (At 3 times the cost). Need new workout clothes? Only Lululemon will do. (But, they last and last and last). You’ve seen the vacuum I’m going to purchase (with its rave reviews). Cheap options don’t appeal. This is probably my secret weapon in the No Big Box campaign. It’s easy when most of the crap those stores sell, I don’t want.

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Happiness is not a new set of sheets, but it ranks somewhere in there.

What it does do is leave me with a significant etsy habit, the need for a overwhelming sense of patience to save up for my purchases (this does not come naturally), and a desire to cut corners whenever and where ever I can (this does). Those are just different skills than coupon clipping and clearance bin scrounging. Read more

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Money Saving: A Season of Cheap Meals

I’ve got no business writing a post with cheap and any sort of reference to food in the title. It is not actually something I am good at. Anyone who remembers my grocery posts will attest. While I still hold the title of reigning champion in our local rounds of the What’s for Dinner Game, I put too much emphasis on meat, organics, local, and where I shop to put a sizable dent in my grocery spending.

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But today, there’s a crock pot with beans and ham simmering away in my kitchen. Dry beans I unearthed from the depths of my pantry. Ham from the freezer by way of a bulk purchase, previously used for several breakfast and lunches earlier this week. I just ate (bulk purchased) oatmeal with (also bulk purchased) local peanut butter and the frozen organic berries I froze myself long ago. That was my second breakfast. My first was eggs. You know where those came from. For lunch I’ll have last nights leftovers, before I tuck into that ham and beans.

Huge grocery budget or no, days like today I don’t feel like a slouch. Read more

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Money Saving Everyday: Catching Up

I lost my Monday rhythm. Long, long ago. Oh, freaking well. It doesn’t mean I’m not still a cheapskate. To varying degrees. Each and every day. Sometimes more than others.

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We still need both pair of shoes. Their use just won’t cost as much.

But, its time to get caught up. To give some substance to my el-cheapo-grande reputation. Cuz I’m not all just talk. (Although I’m a lot of that.) I do put my money where my mouth is, which should be guardedly in my wallet. Recent financial doings include: Read more

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The No Spend Month: Preparation

After an incredible August and a ridiculous September, I am officially done. Over it. I’m spent. Figuratively. Literally. I demand a break. Better yet, I’m engineering a break. About a week ago, the idea of spending basically no money in October hit me. And sounded really, really awesome. I’ve done a No Spend Week once before. Once. But, not for a while and not a month long version. The results of that week were solid. They took some creativity and some preparation. That’s what I’m focusing on in the end of September. Getting ready for a cheap, simple October.

Step 1: Stockpile. It will help if your freezer looks like this.

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If you’ve recently got a hell of a deal of a 1/2 cow, and less of a good deal on a 1/2 pig. If your cupboards are full to the brim with canned goods of every possible variety. If you’ve got a flock of pullets supplying you an average of four eggs a day. If you’ve spent the last several months stockpiling, building infrastructure, and spending a heck of a lot of money, this makes for the opportune time to seriously slash your spending. Read more

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Money Saving Monday: Sell Your Crap!

On occasion, my frugal lifestyle nets me a modest pile of stuff to sell. Actually, No. UN-frugal-ness is where most of this stuff comes from. These are past purchases I no longer need or want. Things I shouldn’t have bought in the first place. This frugality is in reaction to bad spending. Selling them now, might recoup me some of my sunk costs. Some. If they have more than thrift store value left, selling could be better than the tax write-off donation slip from Goodwill. Or you could end up wasting a bunch of time for stuff you should have purged from your life long ago.

We should all strive NOT to have such piles as this.

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A designer handbag. What can I say? It was the time and the place. It failed to permanently replace my trusty, Timbuk2 workhorse. Expensive boots, I thought would fill the need of those lost in a move. They’ve since become manufactured in China, and just aren’t what they used to be. Hardly worn. A cookie jar that’s been bumping around my kitchen, not filled with cookies. Maybe ever. A camera, stolen, replaced, then returned. And some miscellaneous books in need of a more appropriate home. A misfit post-consumer pile, that’s been sitting in Stuff Purgatory for far, far too long.

What’s a lover of stuff to do? How do you turn the detritus of your life into material for a Money Making Monday? Read more

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Money Saving Monday: The Lifestyle

Sometimes I am without theme. My money saving thoughts are specific to no one topic. Rather they are inherent in my day to day life. My imperfect occasionally spend way too much life, that still seems fraught with frugal choices.
Somehow, they’re there.

From the copy of The Tightwad Gazette, seemingly ever present on my bedside table these days, to the Sunday afternoon spent making salsa with friends.

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Gallons upon gallons of lacto fermented salsa. Made with bulk purchased local tomatoes ($.81/lb), whey from our homemade yogurt, onions and garlic price shopped at the Farmers Market, and limes from the Grocery Outlet, with the best price in town. And that’s just this afternoon. Read more

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Money Saving Monday: Vacation With Friends

I am currently staying in a house with 8 other people. One of them is The Husband. But, the rest. The rest are a group of long time partners in crime. Some of my finest companions. The people I will willingly agree to shack up in a 2 bathroom house with. We will float rivers. We will talk shit. We will eat and drink too much.

I could write about how this vacay is cheaper than other forms of vacay. How we organized meal sharing, pooled resources, and took advantage of the generosity of families to keep our out of town in budget.

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Or. Or, I can harass my friends over coffee, booze, cross word puzzles, chess games and hot tubs for their best money saving tips. The way each of them, from all their different backgrounds, circumstances, and varying concerns about frugalty (or lack thereof) spend just a little bit less. In case you get sick of hearing from only little old me, how about an informal pool from a group of seven (The Husband doesn’t count). 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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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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