week twenty-one: spending money like my dad

My dad is frugal. Not cray cray cheap like stuffing ketchup packets in his pants at McDonald’s and then refilling the bottle at home with the purloined tomato-y goodness… but frugal. His truck is 20 years old and when he bought it, he went in and got the most stripped down version of a Ford Ranger those bitches sold. No power steering, no carpet, no radio, no power windows. Actually, thinking back on it, how the hell do you buy a new car without carpet and a radio?

My dad has never bought into “luxuries.” You know, things we convince ourselves are “needs” but really are just wants in disguise. We didn’t have cable growing up. A new car happened about once every 10 years. He got a $6 haircut and wore his Levi’s until they fell apart. Then he wore them when he changed the oil on the cars or did handyman repairs around the house and neighborhood.

He wasn’t necessarily opposed to spending money – but he never seemed to spend it thoughtlessly or on things that wouldn’t last. Of course, as a child and definitely as a teenager, I thought his thrifty ways were outdated and lame. Before he bought the Ford Ranger he drove a horrifically beat-up, rust-covered lemon-yellow truck that embarrassed me endlessly. I used to make him drop me off at school a few blocks away so no one would catch me in it.

But, like all people who have kids and get old, my parents’ once-bass-ackwards-seeming ways now seem like good sense. And although I never thought I’d say it, I will: My dad was right.

Lots of blogs have touted the idea of the no-spend months. Basically it’s just like it sounds: No buying dumb shit. For a month. Typically there’s a few exceptions, like groceries and maybe personal care, like a haircut or medicine.

But a month to me seems like an eternity. So I’m going to do a week. If it goes well, I’ll try a month next time. And I’m using my dad as inspiration. So instead of asking myself WWJD, I’ll be asking myself WWDD?

My rules are:

– Groceries are cool. But I mean food, not “grocery shopping” at Target and also slipping in fingerless gloves and a DVD.

– I have a brow wax scheduled this week. Babysitting is lined up and I’m not missing out on it. Hells naw. When you have super short hair and ungroomed brows, it’s way too easy to look like Peter Pan. Trust.

– No money spending on activities. No $5 rides on the carousel (sorry baby!) or $8 trips to inflatable world. Bonus: We have memberships at the Zoo and the local aquarium. So it’s not like baby will be all sad and deprived.

– No spending money on food outside the home. No restaurants, Starbucks runs or churros at the Zoo. (Oy. That one hurt to write. Churros take the Zoo from “wheee!” to “OMNOMNOMNOMYAYYYYYY!)

– Also – I’m going to write down all the stupid shit I feel longing for during the week, just to have a record of the unfulfilled “needs” and if, with a bit of reflection, I even want them.

Writing this down and being all serious about it makes me realize that I’m super lame if I can’t do the above for just a week. It’s a hard fucking life, huh? The week starts now, let’s go!

Advertisements

week twenty: bottle cap crafts

Image

Even though I am a foul-mouthed, somewhat mean-spirited (I love when kids fall down! HAHAHA!) beeyatch who’s trying to become a minimalist, I still like to craft. Yes, cross stitching and paper punches aren’t just reserved for prim old ladies who miss the good old days when Murder, She Wrote was on every Sunday night. By the way – that show is the SHIT. And the opening sequence when Angela Lansbury is like riding her bike through her New England town or wherever the hell she was from and then like gardening… TIGHT. I’ve watched reruns on Netflix. Truth.

Anywho, yes, I like crafting. Making stuff with your hands is awesome and people who turn up their noses at embroidery or sewing or glue gun action are basically joyless turds. Who doesn’t want to get down with a glue gun? That’s a bomb diggity girl’s night in right there, no lie.

The problem with liking to craft is that you can – very easily – become a crazy hoarder person and hold onto trash in the hopes that one day you’ll magically glue gun it into something phenomenal that will take your family’s breath away when they open it on Christmas morning. Bottle caps were the key to my Rockwellian crafting dream.

Pre-Pinterest, I saw a tutorial online about turning your used bottle caps (trash) into magnets for holidays gifts (upcycled trash someone else will throw away after Christmas). The idea was that you’d cut out tiny beautiful pictures, glue them into the bottle cap, fill the bottle cap with some sort of toxic chemical or resin or something like that, then hot glue a magnet to the back. Voila! Magnet perfection.

I was so convinced this would be the BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT OF ALL TIME that I demanded husband start saving all of his bottle caps. To keep things neat, I stacked them on a nice shelf I have in the kitchen. Yeah, a trash collection on my pretty floating wall shelves where I prep our food. House Beautiful, please feel free to give me a call.

This was… hmmm… maybe like three years ago? Three Christmases and no bottle cap magnets. No bottle cap jewelry, dollhouse art or bedside lamps. Let’s face it, people – I’m never making anything with those bottle caps.

I have decided I can accept this. See, I’m not just a serial craft supply saver. I actually do finish some stuff. I really like cross stitching and have vowed to finish baby’s birth announcement sampler by the end of this month. I usually make at least two or three cross stitched gifts for Christmas. I make all of our Christmas cards. And last year, I even made some homemade stamped wrapping paper for holiday gifts.

So I have to learn to appreciate the crafting time I do have and focus on the things I actually enjoy and complete. Not just try everything that looks sexy and fun. I have to be crafting monogamous. Or, at the very least, not be a slutty crafter, flirting with everything that looks my way. (I am talking to you, jewelry-making aisle at Jo-Ann’s!)

So the bottle caps went into the trash today. I screamed a little inside when I saw them there, laying amongst some strawberry stems and banana peel from baby’s breakfast. And, I shit you not, I immediately regretted it.

“Hey ooohhh… didn’t I see some adorable bottle cap mini candle craft on Pinterest?” My inner craft slut started in on me. “Wouldn’t that be an awesome gift? And OH MY GOD they would look so cute on our deck this autumn. I can make orange ones for Halloween!”

I slammed the trash can closed and ate a cookie.

week nineteen: no more pedicures

DIY Pedicure instructions can be found here, y’all!

In the process of cleaning out my house and re-examining the stupid shit I’ve purchased (and still continue to buy, let’s be real), I’ve also come to realize that I not only spend MONEY on dumb shit, but also TIME.

It can be overwhelming to manage all of the upkeep involved with being a woman. I mean, look at all of the miscellaneous crap we have to do just to be reasonably hot:

1. Hair did. (In my instance, this is not just cut, but cut pretty frequently as it’s super short AND two-hour bleaching sessions as it’s platinum blonde. The payoff being that it basically looks cute without much fuss. At least I think so, maybe I look like Kate Gosselin. Who knows?)

2. Waxing. Choocha, brows… and yes, upper lip. Sorry! My mom is Portuguese, what am I supposed to do?!

3. Pedicures/Manicures. OK, to be honest I never get manicures. I think painted nails look kind of lame and they never last anyways. I keep mine short and they look OK. Maybe a bit boyish, but whatever.

Those are in my regular rotation, along with other services here and there – a facial, teeth cleaning, that sort of thing. Y’all bitches might have other crap on your to-do list – but essentially what I’m saying is that grooming seems to take up a lot of my free time.

And nothing shines a big spotlight on your frivolous use of time like being a mom, let me tell you. I get about 37 minutes of “free” time a day – that is, specifically, time when I’m not with the baby, making food, working, doing laundry, updating the family blog for the grandparents, writing thank you notes, paying the bills, yadda yadda yadda. Please don’t get me wrong – women that aren’t moms are crazy busy, too. It’s just for me, it didn’t become overwhelming until baby entered the picture.

So when I needed a pedicure and couldn’t get one scheduled due to husband’s crazy work schedule and lack of babysitting options, it occurred to me that a fucking pedicure is not that hard. DIY that shit!

I decided I wasn’t going to outsource pedicures any more. Not necessarily from a money standpoint – although saving $42 on each one sounds awesome! (And yes I realize that’s insane person money for a pedi, but I just can’t get on board with those strip mall fungus emporiums, and I patronized the fancy lady pedi place.)

So saving money is good, but really, I am looking to save a bit of time. A pedi by itself isn’t a huge time sink, but the 40-minute roundtrip drive and the purtying up I had to do beforehand cost me valuable free time. Free time I wanted to spend doing something else. Plus, I have to get someone to watch the baby, and I hate wasting precious babysitting favors on “errands.” I want my mom to babysit so I can go to the track and drink margaritas, bitches!

So I gathered up all my materials – and surprisingly, I had just about everything I needed for a decent pedi DIY. I soaked, filed, exfoliated, pumiced, base coated and painted. From start to finish it takes me about 25 minutes. I do it during baby’s second nap and put terrible, god-awful TV on and turn my brain off. Next time I’m making a margarita!

Bonus: Over my blogging break, I took another carload of crap to the thrift store, yay! I think that makes six total. Also sold a bit more junk on eBay, made $100. Although I spent it before the Paypal payments even rolled in on three dresses from the Gap Outlet. We’ll see if they were a wise investment. Now that I’m typing it… maybe not so much.

week eighteen: add water before turn on it!

Nothing says quality electronic goods like a superfluous home appliance with a poorly translated instruction-ish label stuck to the top. With an exclamation point, no less.

I bought this “sonic wave” jewelry cleaner thingie on eBay from some random Chinese importer. It was after I got my engagement ring, and I apparently convinced myself that – for the ONE piece of non-New York and Company jewelry I owned – I needed some weaksauce Sharper Image knockoff to address the ring’s complex cleaning requirements.

When it arrived I wasn’t too impressed. I think I might have even been slightly shocked when I used it for the first time and it didn’t catch on fire. Every once in a while I’ll drop my ring in there, and it seems cleaner when it comes out. I think?

From now on, I’ll use 30 seconds of elbow grease to clean my ring. I’m sure Pinterest has a DIY ring cleaning reference with an adorably illustrated step-by-step manual using reclaimed toothbrushes and a solution made from Windex and cornmeal or something.

Related but separate – took my FIFTH carload of junk to the thrift store today. I was proudest of the giant light blue terry bathrobe husband finally gave up. It took up about 72% of our closet space. Husband kept it because (he thought) it looked like “something Hugh Hefner would wear.” Which makes me think “how does husband NOT realize the difference between a puffy bath towel robe and some slick red satin smoking jacket?!”

I mean COME ON! Hugh Hefner wouldn’t be caught dead in that.

Really, husband. I’m disappointed.

week sixteen: big stupid pillows

No, those aren’t pillows from the psych ward. They’re the “decorative” pillows I bought for our bed – you know, extra pillows that go behind our “real” Tempur-Pedic (boss playa) pillows. The extra pillows we don’t actually sleep on, but rather remove from the bed prior to sleeping and then… I don’t know… throw on the floor? What the fuck else do you do with decorative pillows? Then in the morning, if I don’t make the bed (IF! HAHA!), they just stay there, giant cushy wrinkly hazards to step over and trip on. Fun times. I especially love the misshapen, lumpy, thrift-store-chic look they’re working, too. WTF?!

I tried using these on the bed for oh… four days. Then husband started bitching about how dumb and pointless they were so I put them in the closet. For two years. Then I started cleaning out the closet and told husband to get on it, as his side was all messy. Then he was all, “Damn ho, there be bigass ugly pillows on my side of the closet SO THERE,” and I was all I HATE IT WHEN YOU’RE RIGHT.

So now they’re in the donation pile – wheeee! I can’t believe the space they cleared up in the closet. I also can’t believe that I didn’t SEE them for like two fucking years. And finally, I can’t believe I had to admit husband was right. ARRRTGHGHGHGHGHHHH!

week fifteen: gift wrap “station”

This is one of those stupid things I purchased after getting married that I thought was required for our house. A hanging-on-the-door gift wrap organizer. You know, for all of those presents I wrap constantly. Look! Four rolls of paper from Big Lots! Plus a spool of ribbon! They need a home. And not just boxed up with the Christmas stuff – that would be too logical. They need a special wrapping-paper-designated organizer. Perhaps one I hang on a doorknob – because that’s just what I need on my office door, a fucking plastic garment bag with cheap wrapping paper tumbling out of it whenever I enter the room. WTF is wrong with me?

This has had a few homes over the years. Hanging off my office door. Hanging off the door in the guest room. Hanging off a hook in the garage. Hanging off a ladder in the garage. Hanging off the door in the soon-to-be-baby playroom. I kept moving it when husband ran into it or the dogs sniffed at it to see if it was something they should pee on.

Over the weekend it was hanging in the garage (This time off some plywood! What a great spot for my gift wrap organizer!) and baby kept grabbing at it when we went outside. He knocked it on the ground twice, then I was all like “Fuck this shit! I don’t need no gift wrappin station no more!” (I said it in my head, lest you worry about me cursing in front of baby.)

I decided to forgo Christmasy wrapping paper from now on. I have a bigass roll of kraft butcher paper in my office I use for packaging up some products I sell. Last year I wrapped a few gifts in it, using cute stamps to decorate the paper. It’s one of the few craft projects I can actually do, as it’s quick, fun and easy with very limited set up and clean up. This Christmas maybe baby can even help, if he stops trying to eat everything he gets his grubby little mitts on.

So this Christmas, we’ll be a little more like this under the tree:

You know, sans the stupid top hat as a star (???). Also, I’ll go out on a limb here and say we will probably NOT put a fucking tumbleweed in our fireplace either. But you get the gist. Butcher paper plus some cute ribbon and maybe some stamping fun. Much better than the garment bag clotting up my doorways. Hurray!

week fourteen: the birthday party

My little baby is almost one. I won’t bore you with the requisite “Oh my gawd how time flies,” or the “I can’t believe it’s been a year!” shit. You know that when you get old time goes fast. Add a baby into the mix and it whooshes by at breakneck pace. He’s a year. It went quickly. Yep.

I’m excited for baby’s first birthday. Celebrating this milestone with friends and family sounds fun. The in-laws are flying in from Texas for the event. Husband’s business partner is bringing his family. About 28 people from my side are coming. It’s kinda the hip place to be this June.

And when I started planning this party, all I could think of was the ridiculous pile of shit I was bound to be saddled with after this event.

I’m hosting somewhere around 40 people. I didn’t invite them to get stuff for baby – I invited them because we’re having a picnic in the summertime, and the more the fuckin merrier, amiright? I just want a fun get-together, play pass the baby a bit and eat a chocolate cupcake. I don’t want the “gift table.”

Any time you throw a kid’s birthday party, there’s always the gift table, overflowing with toys, clothes and little kid shit all wrapped up in shiny paper and glossy bags. At some point during the party, people start getting all present itchy and then it’s time to sit baby down and have him open a bunch of stuff. This tradition, particularly with such a young child, seems really fucking strange to me.

Don’t get me wrong – of course I think it’s sweet and nice and thoughtful to give a child a gift for their birthday. But does my baby need 40 new things? Do I want him sitting in a sea of shiny new stuff, learning that getting shit is what his birthday is all about? Is it vital to his happiness that he receives more toys in one day than some children ever see in a lifetime?

No. No he doesn’t. No I don’t. No it isn’t.

Baby is going to be fighting against commercialism and stuff acquisition for decades to come. Right now – in these early years – is the time for simplicity. To try and instill as much as possible an appreciation for the things we have, and a contentedness in knowing that what we have is enough.

So I figured out that I didn’t want stuff. But how to pass that along to all of the invitees without sounding like a:

1. Holier than thou beeyatch (“although your plebeian son may enjoy childish toys, my son shan’t be accepting your low-brow gifts!”)

2. Annoying controlling mom (“only four of you pay attention to my Amazon wishlist and the rest of you jerks will bring age-inappropriate toys that baby will choke on so fuck off!”)

3. Dirty hippie idiot (“the man is controlling baby’s mind via Elmo, so we’ll only be accepting natural gifts, like leaves and Trader Joe’s granola bars.”)

Well, I wasn’t sure – but a post I read on the Minimalist Mom’s blog on minimalist birthday parties for kids gave me an idea. She detailed a “Toonie” party, a Canadian trend in kids’ parties. The basic idea is that party guests, in lieu of gifts, bring the kid one or two “toonies.” (BTW – A toonie is a $2 coin in Canada.) After the party, the kid can go pick out something he’d like with his pocket full of coins. How cool is that?!

I decided that was the strategy for us. Of course, we don’t have any cool coins here in the States – I mean I guess we have that damn Sacagawea $1 coin but I never see them out in circulation and when you try and spend them at the 7-11 the clerk gets all confused like you handed him Monopoly money. A one-dollar bill seemed lame, so I went with a five-dollar bill.

I had also read online about some toonie parties being a split pot of sorts. Each guest would bring two toonies, and the kid donated half and kept half. I liked that idea, and I like the thought of baby picking a charity each year to support. You know, teaching him the world is bigger than himself, that sort of shit. So that’s the plan. This year, husband and I will pick the charity, I’m thinking Heifer or Toys for Tots.

I’m sure some people will ignore our request, and that’s cool. But if their gift gets donated after the party I won’t feel too bad about it. It’ll probably be the same people who never read their emails all the way through and also forget to RSVP. But that’s why you bring extra sandwiches, you know? Because even though those people annoy the shit out of you, you still have to invite them. Haha! Just kidding.

Not really.