Scrooge McDuck, I Am Not

It’s a given that everyone has different financial priorities. Some people have hobbies and enjoy spending their hard-earned cash on something as simple as crocheting supplies, or as complicated as wine-making. Others get a kick out of scouring the sales racks for high fashion finds. Still others travel as much as they can.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are the folks who won’t spend a dime on anything they don’t need for their day-to-day survival, or they’re socking away their extra funds for a rainy day or for retirement.

Me, I’m somewhere in the middle. I’ll (likely) never be able to buy a $400 purse without going into convulsions and wanting to return it for a full refund RIGHT THIS SECOND. I can’t even bear to gamble, because it’s an almost guaranteed loss thanks to my crappy luck at the slots or the roulette table. (Blackjack? I at least stand a chance.)

I don’t want to judge anyone who chooses to spend their money differently than I do. We all have different expenses, different incomes, and different financial outlooks. Some people want to save it all for old age. Others say you can’t take it with you. I will occasionally cringe if someone tells me how much they spent on a pair of new shoes, but I swear I’m only thinking about how much it would hurt me to drop a few hundred bucks on a pair of Louboutins.

I just hope I don’t come across like Scrooge McDuck.

 

Less Time, More Money Spent

Time isn’t something I have a lot of anymore. What used to be “free time” is now spent playing with and caring for our 2-year-old, cleaning up toys and doing more laundry. I’m planning her meals and ours — when I have the time. Coupons? Only if I have the time to cut them from the fliers or load them onto my club card. Or if I remember to do it before running out to the store. If I don’t have coupons for stores other than grocery stores, I just don’t go.

I also have less time to compare prices. Sometimes, I just have to run out and pick up baby wipes, coupon or no coupon. Diapers, I have those covered — I’m enrolled in the Amazon Mom program, and those boxes show up at our front door like clockwork. We’re out of cat litter? In the pre-child days, I’d check out which store had it on sale. That rarely happens anymore.

Now that Miss Frugalista is 2, I’m hoping I can get back to my old penny-saving ways, because a buck here and a buck there adds up. Just don’t count on me turning up with a new pair of Louboutins on my feet anytime soon.

Little Bites: Holiday Hodgepodge

It’s been one heck of a week. What’s normally my favorite week of the year has been tinged with sadness: I received news that an aunt had passed away. We’ll be attending the wake and funeral, then celebrating Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, although I’m sure my usual holiday joy will be muted. I’m not good with loss — the last time someone close to me passed away, it was my grandmother back in 1997. Before that, I was too young to remember.

She was a wonderful, vibrant woman who spoke her mind and had a heart of gold, always helping others. She will be dearly missed. I’m so sad that our daughter won’t get to meet her.

Little Bites

— I neglected our checkbook for two weeks. I paid bills, but didn’t input anything else into the register. I finally caught up on that Sunday night. December is a three-paycheck month for me, which works out well for present-buying.

— Speaking of presents, I’m done buying and wrapping. Except for one gift that needs to arrive (in time for Christmas, I hope), everything is wrapped and tucked safely away from the prying claws of our two cats. Well, the younger one claws, while the older one just likes to bite the ribbons.

— I’m now 29 weeks pregnant. And it’s getting harder to move around and get a good night’s rest. I also think this is the last week I’ll be able to wear my engagement/wedding rings without fearing they won’t come off.

— My side gigs are still going. I continue to take freelance work, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to do it much longer, now that I’m getting more and more tired. Interesting side note: I interviewed Jim Cramer this week (you know, the host of CNBC’s Mad Money). And it wasn’t for a finance-related story.

Busy Bee

I’ve spent the last week knocking out two freelance assignments — I have to admit, I’ve never had so much trouble getting sources for an article in my entire career. But I and my editor were happy with the end result, which is all that matters.

Besides grocery shopping, I didn’t spend any money this week. There was the possibility of a THIRD car repair since August (see here and here), but the ‘thumping’ noise I heard — similar to a flat tire sound — wound up being a dirty brake caliper. Go figure. Instead of charging me to disassemble the brakes just to clean it, the mechanic suggested that a car wash might be the ticket to getting rid of the noise. The reasoning is that he had checked the brakes just two weeks ago with my last car repair, and they’re fine. So there’s no need to do anything that will cost me money at this point. He also made a point to tell me that he wouldn’t put me in harm’s way, so that was reassuring. The fact that he’s a family friend also helps.

We’re down to putting up the trim in never-ending room renovation. I’m off all next week, so hopefully my brother will come over with his nail gun to do that. Then we’ll putty over the holes and slap a dab of paint over them. Finally, Mr. NSF can clear the tools and paint cans from the room and clean up the floor in preparation for moving our furniture in. The room is going to double as our bedroom and the “nursery” while the other upstairs bedroom gets renovated. At this point, I’m so tired of talking about this ongoing project!

We’ve also been lucky that friends, family and co-workers are giving us tons of baby stuff, which I’m putting away for now. Strollers, clothes, bouncers — thank you, everyone!

Commentary: “Amish Fireplaces”

By now, we’ve all seen the commercials and advertisements for the Amish fireplace. It’s basically an electric space heater dressed up with a wood mantel and made to look like a fireplace. And it can be yours, FREE, if you just purchase the mantel!

It’s supposed to save you tons of money on your heating bills. MSNBC.com’s ConsumerMan column has a more in-depth explanation of this ruse.

The “Amish fireplace” mantel costs $337. For another $18, you get a remote, and a 2-year extended warranty will set you back another $36. Of course, there’s a $49 charge for shipping and handling. So the heating component is free, free, free! /sarcasm/

So who in their right mind would pay $440 for a glorified space heater? While I can appreciate Amish craftsmanship, I doubt it’s worth that much. And who knows how much of the

The Heat Surge technology claims to crank out 4,606 BTUs of energy — “Heat Surge infrared technology safely heats a room faster and more effectively than typical space heaters.”

Well, my $35 oil-filled, radiator-style electric space heater puts out 5,115 BTUs on the high setting, and within 20 minutes, our formerly-cold porch room is comfortable enough to use. Another 15 minutes, and the ambient temperature meets that of the rest of our home.

In general, space heaters only warm up small areas — one room. And to reap the “benefits” of space heaters, you need to turn down — or turn off — the heat to the rest of the house. Otherwise, you’re paying for two heating sources.

Also keep in mind that in most areas, electricity still costs more than gas — so whether or not you save money remains to be seen.

Posts That Piqued My Interest: Fall Leaves Edition

Right now, our backyard looks like it got wall-to-wall yellow carpeting. You can clearly see the line of delineation between our property, which is full of leaves, and the neighbor’s, where the landscaping service has neatly blown away all traces of fall (at least for this week). A few wayward leaves have traveled across the property line, but I don’t think our elderly neighbor will be too miffed at the invaders.

Last year, Mr. Not-So-Frugal and I raked the leaves ourselves. This year, I’m in no shape or condition to lend a rake, so it’s all up to him. One of our friends smartly suggested that we “mow” the lawn and let the mulched leaves decompose over the winter, serving as natural fertilizer. I heartily second that idea. However, I don’t think it will get done this weekend — more likely, I will be pushing Mr. NSF into the garage toward the lawnmower, kicking and screaming.

Here are some posts that caught my attention this week:

5 Reasons to Avoid a Roth IRA at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

Should You Drop Out of College at Consumerism Commentary

Does This Christmas Tree Make Me Look Fat? 10 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays at More Style Than Cash

Do You Save Instead of Paying Debt? at Watson Inc.

How to Live on One Salary at Cool to Be Frugal

How to Live Frugally Without Being an Extremist at Personal Finance by the Book

What to Do When Personal Finance Becomes a Chore at Get Rich Slowly

Finding The Best Deals On Black Friday at Not Made of Money

Would You Give Away $11.3 Million?

A retired Canadian couple won a $11.3 million lottery jackpot back in July. And now, in October, they have almost none of that windfall left for their own use. Why? Because they chose to give the majority of it away, reserving 2% of their winnings for their own savings.

Nova Scotia residents Allen and Violet Large, who are in their late 70s, won the money in July and immediately they started receiving phone calls from people asking them for money. (The nerve of some people continues to astound me.) They then decided that rather than possible be taken advantage of, they’d use their good fortune to help others in need.

First, they took care of family. Then, they made donations to a large number of charitable organizations. All this as the wife, Violet, was recovering from a round of chemotherapy. The pair have been excellent at saving their money prior to retirement and had no pressing need for the lottery winnings.

Off-topic: I’ll reserve judgment on the headline of the Yahoo article: “Nicest Canadian couple in the world dole out lottery winnings” — I’m not sure that the “world” is full of “Canadian” couples.

I don’t know if I — or anyone else I know, for that matter — would be that generous after winning millions of dollars. Sure, there would be some donations, and I’d love to pay off immediate family members’ debts, but give all of it away? I don’t think that would happen.

Would you be able to give $11.3 million away?

Sick in the Head

I’m home sick — with a cold or sinus infection, I’m not sure which. But I have a crazy runny nose, a headache that could put down a boxer and the requisite cough that goes with it all. I feel like my head is stuffed with all sorts of nasty things.

And I can’t take any medicine to make me feel better because I’m pregnant. So that means I’ll just be heading back to bed to suffer.

I love you, little girl, but this no-medicine thing is going to make me crazy if I continue to get sick through the fall/winter, as I usually do.

Got my flu shot a few weeks ago, so hopefully I won’t get that this year. I was good with it last year, too — no flu, after having gotten the flu twice in each of the previous seasons.

Perhaps later I’ll indulge in a cup of decaf tea, but for now, this little mama is headed back to bed.