Author Archives: Christine

Cost of Living

I’ve always prided myself on being one of those die-hard Michigan residents who says I’ll stick it out through tough times – thick and thin.  I don’t care if tons of home are in foreclosure!  I don’t care if I am living paycheck to paycheck!  It will get better!  I will stay when others go!

But I got a job offer in another state a couple weeks ago.  Now some of the main reasons I’m taking the job?  It’s near my boyfriend and it’s a unique job opportunity.  But the fact that I can rent a bigger place for $200 less a month, the price of gas is about 30 cents cheaper per gallon, and groceries are more affordable certainly doesn’t hurt.  I’ve calculated an annual savings of $3000-4000 a year just in savings from rent and life expenses alone.

I want to come back to my home state as soon as possible.  But wow…being able to start saving for retirement is such a nice thought.  I don’t think I can pass up long term financial stability just because of my sense of state pride.  It doesn’t make much sense (cents).

WHAT? WE DO WHAT?

I will tell you what K did.  Because she is going above and beyond librarian duty.  A law student came from Africa with no home, no checking account, nothing but her stuff and a will to get a law degree.  The law school messed up, this lovely woman has no housing, K is taking her in.  Hmmm, if that isn’t a big heart, I don’t know what is.

Me, I’m working two library jobs.  It is my attempt to make more money.  I love my night job (ahem…not stripping…that’s what it sounds like, I know), but 13 hours on desk makes you pretty freaking squirrly.

So, K and I are a tad busy saving the world and making extra money.  We have not forgotten the blog, but we are busting butt right now.  Regularly scheduled programming will be back in just a bit.  Promise.

Peace out…   C

When to spend or save

I found this interesting article on MSN Money this morning…it talks about what purchases you should splurge on or not….

Fashionably Green

In my recent attempts to increase my savings, I’ve inadvertently become a part of the reduce, reuse, recycle campaign. Of course, I think it’s becoming fashionable to be “green”, but when you’re doing it out of a need and not just a trend, well, then it’s truly a lifestyle…one that you can’t help but stick with.

So I’ve been signing up for different listservs and groups and well, I have a problem – I’m not a hippie.

I know! I know! How awful of me. How incredibly insensitive – I’m labeling, demonstrating pre-conceived notions. Blah blah blah. But let me explain…

I recently signed up for a well known online listserv that focuses on anti-consumerism and the three Rs. Soon, my email box was awash with irrelevant conversation about smoking pot and why the 60s were the very best. It was too difficult to sift through the dozens of emails from people trying to out-hippie each other to get to the really good, helpful emails, so I stopped my membership.

Where’s the middle ground?

For instance, I like the general concept behind EcoStiletto and what used to be the GreenGirlGuide and stores like Gaiam – but I am not that trendy or that wealthy. (I find if I really like their ideas, I can find a lower cost, but very similar product). On the other hand, I still like to shave my legs and appreciate a nice Ann Taylor suit (purchased from Salvation Army). So I feel like I’m teetering on an odd edge in the world of green. I have a feeling that amongst all these trends, those of us of modest income who want to be eco / budget conscience will get a voice that represents us. In the meantime, I guess K and I will keep leaning on one another in a quest for being ‘fashionably green’ in a way that is realistic and sustainable.

-C

Where finances and perspective meet…

I have just finished two books about cutting back and spending less: Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine and Give It Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less by Mary Carlomagno.

For one year, Judith Levine gives up things that aren’t necessities. She doesn’t buy q-tips, wine, or pre-made salad mix. She tries repairing her old stuff in lieu of buying brand new. She eats in, she rides her bike, she even joins a group for people interested in voluntary simplicity. When her niece graduated from college, Judith and her significant other put their heads together and came up with a priceless gift that cost them nothing at all. She is honest, funny, and analytical about the entire process. She even let’s you know that she slipped twice (a cute pair of pants and a resale shop outfit).

BUT HERE IS THE BEST PART – She totally boasts about what libraries have to offer! Because when she needed free entertainment or wanted to make hand-made gifts, guess where she found books, events, and information??? Ms. Levine is a total champion for libraries as an invaluable resource for the cost-free entertainment.

I liked her ingenuity and I liked that she provides insight into how she got more from purchasing less. (For instance, who knew going to the museum on “free night” could be so fun?). You can visit her website and blog at http://www.judithlevine.com/

Give It Up! did not impress me as much. For one month each year the author gave up the following: alcohol, shopping, elevators, newspapers, cell phones, dining out, television, taxis, coffee, cursing, chocolate, and multitasking. Now clearly she wasn’t just giving up financial things, she was also giving up some habits. I liked her sense of humor and approach to things at times, but something kept nagging at me as I was reading. Then I got it…her attempt at giving things up and living with less is how I have to live daily. I’m not holier-than-thou or anything, don’t get me wrong. I love to swear, I multitask like a fiend, and I have never met an elevator I didn’t like, but my financial situation forces me to live a certain way. I guess I was looking for a book on saving cash and what I got was a book written by a New Yorker who pared herself down to the standards by which most Mid-westerners (and especially Michiganians) are living. It just kind of makes you feel a bit dismayed and even resentful.

Now in poor Mary’s defense, she is funny and speaks with great candor. She asks herself (and her friends) some tough questions (like, why do you feel compelled to drink when you hang out?). She is founder of Order, a clutter control and organization company and I’m looking forward to a book about that from her because the website is interesting. But at the end of the day, our financial perspectives are too different for me to really like the book.

For my next literary adventure I’m waiting for a book about America’s Cheapest Family to come through inter-library loan. I bet the pendulum will be swinging to the other extreme and I’ll be sneering at them too! Well, I’ll let you all know.

– C

Hey, they do that with ransom too!

It’s always been a trend for gas stations to give you a less expensive price if you buy a bad car wash.  But more and more in the Metro Detroit area I am seeing signs that you can get the cheaper gas if you pay in cash.

Just a thought…but don’t they do that when someone is kidnapped?  “We only want cash…unmarked bills”.  I get to drive my car just a bit further if I pay the gas station in cold, hard cash.  They might as well post the price in letters cut out from magazines.  That’s ransom proper.

I am resigned to the high gas prices…there are far too many elements to the gas game than I can protest, letter-write, or lobby to (God love ya if you do).  But don’t toy with me.  I need to see one price when I am driving by the gas station at 40 miles/hour or else I get confused.

I don’t give you two different answers to reference questions depending on if you paid your taxes via check or cash to the city.  But if you are a gas station owner, maybe I will.  (Ah, spite, it is an evil, evil thing.)

– C

Ann Taylor, you slut

I am addicted to the local resale shoppe (it’s spelled shoppe – which apparently means it’s in a different league than the other consignment shop? i dunno). There are days that my car just magically turns into the parking lot. Must resist the pull of the wheel…but all red tags are 50% off…it is beyond my will power…and there is a parking spot RIGHT THERE!!!!

I live in a nouveau-riche community, the type with McMansions and an abnormally high number of those pet boutiques that sell diamond studded dog collars. (Somehow my 1970s Tudor style apartment complex and a shabby Amoco snuck into the mix)

Anyways, the resale stores in the area are teeming with beautiful clothing that I would never buy first-hand because they are so very far from my current buying power. And after reading “Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping” by Judith Levine (next post will be a review) I like to think that I am reducing my ecological footprint by buying something that might be “new” for me, but did not have to be made from scratch. (Green Cotton describes it a bit better than I can…)

I find myself making purchases and muttering, “Ann Taylor, J. Jill, Liz Claiborne…you are such sluts. And you’ve seduced me!!!!!” I am a resale pimp, and I have a lovely wardrobe to show for it. 🙂 Hence, the $4.99 Ann Taylor skirt with the tags still on it:

W Magazine Article on Consignment Shopping

Can’t wait to hear about other people’s best finds…do tell…it’s the thrill of the hunt, you know!