I still have a dishpan under my bed where I collect the change out of my handbag every night. I stash paper money in a jug…because I will never get over NOT having money. I used to sit in staff meetings (only the greatest waste of time on the planet), going over my budget and checking my numbers, figuring out how I was going to make my check stretch out to the end of the month. I never got over running the numbers. Any money I find in the laundry goes into the dishpan or the jug. And Coinstar? At 10%? Oh, please.

Is it fun? Not so far.

I make our food from scratch and shop at Grocery Outlet and the 99 Cent Store. (Shopping at regular stores just makes me sick. Those prices are SKY HIGH. How does anyone afford to EAT?) Even when we go to the coast, I do all the cooking and shop here, because I’ll be darned if I’ll pay beach prices for food. When we first got the boat (before we bought the cottage on the water), we ate out all the time and you know what? I like my own cooking better.

I have a small container garden…fresh herbs and tomatoes…and most of the year, I can just walk out on the veranda and snip some fresh dill or basil. I go to the local farmer’s market. I can or freeze most of the produce I buy in season, which I honestly like to do. It makes me feel useful. I used to work at a cannery and believe me when I tell you that I can’t/won’t eat canned food because I know what goes into those cans. If you knew, you wouldn’t eat it either.

I do my own ironing and I sort of like it. I think shirts smell like licorice and I like the way everything looks so crisp, hanging on the rack. It’s almost as satisfying as getting stains out in the laundry. I love my laundry room.

I clean my own house (I have had housekeepers in the past but gosh! It is easier to do it myself. Do I like it? Not yet.) There is a certain satisfaction in having a clean kitchen, mopped floors and really clean bathrooms.  I use FlyLady and Cozi and  a timer or I will fiddle-faddle the day away. I bought most of my cleaning products and tools here. With 4500 square feet of hardwood floors, that Sh-Mop is worth it’s weight in gold. In fact, I love all the tips and products. Cleaning is a real job, not just a lick and a promise you’ll get to later. I calendar in my cleaning just like I calendar in everything else in my life.(In fact, tomorrow is the day I haul out the big ladder and change the light bulbs. Anything that involves me climbing up on a 12-foot ladder gets changed out and those bulbs go into a drawer for lamps, because I’m only climbing up ONCE.)

I drag up my own shopping and take out my own trash, no little chore when you live 32 steps above the front door. I love living up here, in the big middle of town. LOVE it. And I thought those 32 steps would keep me young. I just didn’t realize I would be trotting up and down those stairs 95 times a day!

I took a ten year break from sewing (oh, I was busy and working like a crazy woman, so I “gifted” myself with shopping. There lies madness because shopping for clothes is a stupid way for me to spend my time. Do I like it? Not so far. At all. Ever.)
I do like sewing. I love my machine. I like having things that fit and not having to look at numbers on clothing. THAT drives me crazy. I don’t know how people do it, week in and week out…all that trying on and checking the fit and getting dressed to find something else. Then I got a THIRTEEN THOUSAND DOLLAR estimate for window coverings for this house and a FIVE THOUSAND DOLLAR estimate to make slipcovers for two wing chairs. Slipcovers…not re-upholstering. Well, shut the front door. Do I LOOK like I have $18K to spend? That is more than I used to MAKE in a YEAR. So I got some books from the library (I’m on a book diet, too), figured out how to do it myself and bought the fabric on-line. $600 for the fabric and a lot of planning, cutting and sewing….but I really like having $17,400 in my hind pocket.

And I don’t go to the movies, spend money on premium channels or rent movies. I just cannot make myself do it. We have basic cable and that is more than enough. There is always SOMETHING on NatGeoWild (sharks and hyenas…creatures eating each other mainly. Sort of like life.)

I’m not as frugal as my parents were (Depression children) but I’m pretty darn good with a dollar. My mother always said that you don’t go broke by dollars; it’s the pennies that will trip you up. Of course, she would keep track of what she saved and stick it in the bank. I just move the monies around because gas isn’t getting any cheaper. (It is right around $4.57 A GALLON. I remember when I moved back to California and gas was almost $1 a gallon and I swore I would never spend that kind of money on gas. Who did I think I was?)

With all of my penny pinching, I do have some extravagances and they are pretty extravagant. I like to buy good yarn. for my knitting

I like to buy nice fabric here and here…because the knitting and sewing is more about making things than it is about making cheap stuff. I think WalMart has the corner on cheap fabric, cheap buttons, ill-fitting clothing and cheap seams. I like expensive perfume, too.

Like my mother always said, you’ll go broke at the grocery store, not the jewelry store.

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