Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cutting Back

By JB


Cutting Back. Everyone’s talking about it. I hear sentences beginning with “In this economy…” This phrase is usually followed by the speaker’s declaration that they aren’t buying something they would have bought at the same time last year. For example, a group of women I see regularly at the Panera Bread where I spend the mornings typing away on my laptop, were trying to decide whether to head over to Nordstrom’s for their giant sale.


“I know I shouldn’t!” one said unhappily. “I’ll buy something I don’t need.”


“We all need shoes,” replied another. “And boots are half-off. Isn’t that economizing?”


I had to smile, because on one level I agree with the woman. If you need boots and they’re marked at 50% off, then they seem like a pretty good value. You could probably get three pairs of shoes for the same prize at a less posh store, but for this particular set of women, who looked like extras from Sex in the City, buying something on sale anywhere equaled economizing.


I began to think about how I’ve started acting a bit differently in today’s dour market. I haven’t cut back on books or fresh foods. Those are two things that come first around here, but I’ve definitely been less interesting in buying clothes, cosmetics, or accessories than ever. Curious to see what other folks are doing, I started researching what kind of economizing is taking place at home. I narrowed down a few lists and have some examples for you here:


1. Take lunch to work more often


2. Organize a babysitting system in which you and your friends take turns watching one another’s kids


3. Color your own hair (yikes!)


4. Cut your kids’ hair


5. Pay credit card charges every month to avoid interest and leave your credit card at home unless you deliberately plan to go out and buy something


6. Eat what’s in season (as we’ve talked about before)


7. Rent movies instead of going to the theater. If you do go to the theater, smuggle in your own snacks (always do!) and attend a matinee


8. Coffee is an expensive item. Try to skip Starbucks and brew your own at home. Measure carefully so as not to brew more than you need.


9. Swap services with friends and neighbors. For example, get someone to fix something for you in exchange for cooking them lasagna.


10. Make homemade gifts instead of buying them. Bake a gift or create a craft. (Or write them into your next book J )


11. Watch out how many disposable items you’re using such as paper plates or razors or paper towels and try to use the permanent item instead.


12. Your bread will last longer if you keep it in the pantry or a breadbox, not the fridge.


13. Check with your bank to make sure you’re getting all the free stuff – free checking, free checks, free lollipops…


14. Buy holiday things out of season (Christmas in July, yippee!)


15. Skimp on anything else, but not on books by the Cozy Chicks! ;)


I hope your piggy bank will be rattling all year long, but if you’ve found a great way to economize, please share it!