Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pinching Pennies

Oh I had thought I had gotten over the time in my life when I had to watch every penny. Yes, I have made some very silly financial mistakes in my early years of living on my own--all a part of growing up. I also had the defeatist attitude that I would never make much money so there was no reason to worry about it.

When I started thinking about buying a home my attitude changed. I started reading books on finances and started contributing to my retirement account at work. I stopped getting a permanent and salon hair color. Just little things like bringing soda from home as opposed to buying cans at a vending machine started to add up. It was fun to see my savings account get larger.

Then I bought my home (no small feat for a single gal), having to almost completely deplete my savings account to do so. I was once again thrust into the poor house. That first year was nothing short of miserable. I existed off of baked potatoes for lunch and homemade cheese quesadillas for dinner. No new clothes (including underwear!) for the entire year. I remember if I got really depressed I would go to the local drugstore and treat myself to a new nail polish color! I NEVER went out for lunch or dinner. Any money I could scrape together would go for such exotic items as trash cans, garden hoses, rakes and snow shovels.

But, I kept plugging away. It’s been ten years since I bought my home and every year things would get a little more financially comfortable. Until last year. I have a set amount of money that is automatically put into my savings account with every paycheck. Starting last year I noticed I had to dip into it every now and then just to make it to the next pay period. By early this year, almost every month the entire amount automatically saved has had to be transferred to my checking account to keep me going. Now granted, I’m still putting a sizeable amount extra into my monthly mortgage so I can have my home paid off in seven years. That is something I will not compromise on. I NEED that security of a mortgage-free home by my mid to late 50s as opposed to my early 70s!

I also won’t compromise on my cats’ food. I was reading a blog and someone commented that she had switched her cats to store brand food to save money and they will just have to get used to it. Not me. That’s like me saying I’ll have MacDonalds dollar hamburger and fries every night to save money.

You know what else I won’t compromise on?? Toilet paper! I remember when I first moved to Washington, DC. I lived on Capitol Hill a block away from work at the Dirksen Senate Office Building. I lived in an old rowhouse with a roommate and I had the responsibility of keeping the bathroom clean and supplied with soap and toilet paper. The Dirksen Senate Office building is an old building with wide, dimly lit marble staircases where the housekeeping staff would keep their rolling carts of supplies on the landings. Well, I guess I sort of….stole toilet paper from the carts. Talk about tissue-paper thin! It was awful and scratchy to boot. I’ve been a Charmin girl ever since!

Can I cut back? Sure. Again, I just figured that at closing in on 50 years old, I should not have to be worried about every little penny. One luxury I afford myself is that instead of bringing my lunch every day, I buy a 5.00 sandwich down the block from my office. Always the same, chicken salad on toast. So, this weekend I bought some crackers, cheese and some good Tabouleh and have brought that to work. I’ll eat that every other day and continue to be able to get my chicken salad sandwich a couple times a week. I still don’t go out to dinner or movies.

So this past weekend I’m at Petsmart and privately lamenting the HUGE increases in the cost of cat food when I see these cute little cat toy mousies. Oh aren’t they adorable! The cats would LOVE them. I look at the price--$6.49. Must……resist……toy……mousies!! I hang them back up and feeling quite proud of myself round the corner to the check out line when I see another sign…all cat beds on sale. Well, I’m not too enthused by them. But wait! Is that a tassled PINK quilted cat bed I see buried underneath a big pile. It IS..It IS a tassled PINK quilted cat bed and on SALE for only $14.00!! Oh, this would look SOOO cute on my bed, wouldn’t it? Oh and look, it has a zipper that you can take out the padding and wash the cover. My eyes were glazed over at that point and with a big smile on my face, dropped the bed in my cart. Was it worth it?

I think......

the cats.....


What about you? Are you feeling the pinch? Are there things that you just won't compromise on? Enquiring minds want to know.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

First off Christine, LOVE the pink quilted cat bed with tassels!! The pix with your kitties say it all! LOL!

Hmmm... Splurges? I cut coupons, bring a bag lunch to work, keep the temp in the house very cool. BUT- I love coffee. Good coffee. I found a whole bean coffee at Costco (Costco brand) that's cheaper than some, but quite a bit more expensive that Folgers (yuck!). I won't make cheap coffee. I also splurge on a good latte at Caribou about once a week.

I bought a house by myself when I was in my late 20's. It was tough. I remember living the first year on Cheerieos and Box mac and cheese (8/$1.00).

T said...

HI, I just came from Dog Geeks blog. First, I LOVE your blog!

Second, This particular post today I really need to comment on. Pinching pennies is never fun, but we have been very careful with what we spend our money on.

I am right there with you, I will NOT change my cat or dog food to save money. My hubby and I have talked about that before. I spend hundreds of dollars every month feeding all the dogs and cats I have, with very good food. My husband puts it this way, "If we go cheaper with store brand food to save money, we may end up with more health problems with the animals, that ultimately will end up costing us more in Vet expenses"! Yep, that is one good reason not to compromise!

Ok, I also have to add, I have a very difficult time resisting the cute toys at PetSmart, and the little pink bed, well, I just bought that last week Too!!

Love your blog, will be visiting often.
Take care.

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Christine! I am single too and my goal is to have my mortgage paid before 50 and I always put extra toward the payment. I will do without for myself, but not for my cats. They will get the same catfood and use the same kitty litter as always. I can do without my Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte and other things, but my babies will have what they always had. No compromise there.

I think the cat bed was a good buy. And your babies seem to approve of this purchase. Lisa

KGMom said...

Ahhh--you are a good mom. Yes, the cats do approve.
Times are tough, aren't they. I am going back to things my parents told me--how they survived.
What won't I compromise on? I am with Lynne--coffee. Gevalia for me.

Dog_geek said...

We definitely won't compromise on pet food or vet care. I tend to be a miserly penny pincher with just about everything else, though. I get my hair cut about once every 2-3 years, I don't wear makeup, and most of my clothes were bought at the Rugged Warehouse for a few bucks a piece. And I apparently don't have a very discrimiating pallet, because I can't tell the difference between generics and brand names, or good coffee vs. bad coffee, or whatever. Unfortunately, Mr.Geek can tell the difference and won't let me save money by buying Kroger brand everything.

KGMom said...

Christine, if you haven't been here yet, you have to go to Mountain Musings website

Moki The Wobbly Cat said...

Ahhh the tempation buy. It is so hard to resist, particularly when such a great find is placed before you. We love, love, love the pink quilted cat bed. It is so cute and looks like it is going to get lots of use!

Anyway we just wanted to stop by and express our thanks for your support. When you get a moment today, please stop by our blog. There is an announcement on it regarding you which you must see, hehe...

Forty Paws said...

That's a cute cat bed! Especially since you can easily wash the cover.

Concatulations on winning Moki's raffle!

Luf, Us

possumlady said...

Hi everyone,

Sounds like we are all in the same boat on pinching pennies, but we do draw the line where coffee, pet food and frappacinos are concerned!!

Welcome T! Thanks so much for stopping by. Your husband makes a very good point about cheaper food and increased vet costs. I can't believe you bought the same cat bed! Great minds think alike, yes? Have you washed yours yet? The tassels seems to get out of control after a wash and dry but a quick snip with the scissors gets them back to normal.

Wow Lisa, having your house paid off before 50! Good for you!! It does take discipline, doesn't it?

And, last but not least--Thanks Moki Joe Designs and Forty Paws for stopping by! I'm still tickled pink that I won the raffle! My herd will be VERY spoiled when they get their package of goodies! Still sending LOTS of positive energy to sweet little Moki for a speedy recovery.

Zippy, Sadie, Speedy and M'Gee said...

Hi, first visit here, found you thru Moki's auction! I'm the same, bought my house when I was 30! It's tuff, it's been tuff since I bought it but since I lost my job last year and hubby decided he didn't want to work anymore and he'd rather sell on ebay it's been a struggle. I've suggested he go back to work and he says I should. I may just take a job so I can kick his lazy ass out. Hehehe

Anonymous said...

Hiyii Possum lady,
Love your blog and found my way through Moki's. My pinching pennies days started last year when i bought my own apartment in Malaysia. The moving in cost had scraped off my savings in the bank. Had to start off with 0 Savings from then onwards! Had 3 cats back then and took in another orphanage kittens shortly after i moved in to my new place. Struggling with living expenses since then! Everything is so expensive right now, especially premier cat food, price went up by 30% when economy meltdown started *sweat*! Vet fee, cat litters, etc are all on the rise as well and i am feeling the hit real hard.... But it is worth it, seeing them happy & healthy, the joy they bring me is more than money to me..... :)

Mary said...

Christine, thanks for sharing this...

We have two incomes and things are tight. No job is secure right now, really.

My "can't do without" is feeding the birds good stuff. But I give up lunch, most days. A piece of fruit and a bag of pretzels gets me through. There are always ways to offset our cravings :o)

I would like to share your homeowner story with my daughter who is struggling in her second year. She recently gave up the nail salon and rarely goes out. Feeling threatened by the economy, this might help her. She also dotes on her cat and two large dogs...

We are all there with you. Although we'd like to spend and boost the economy right now, we need to hold on to the bills for a while...

Frankly, I'm scared. I've lived through recessions before but don't recall one like this.