Category Archives: cheap fun

If time is money, then I’m less frugal than I thought!

Looking at my schedule for the coming semester, I suddenly came to a harsh realization:

I’ll really need to manage my time very carefully if I’m going to make it to graduation!

Yes, I’ll be graduating in December with my Associate’s degree in Liberal Studies. After that, I’m transferring to the university for my Bachelor’s in Media Writing.

The next few months will be a crucial time for me… and time itself will be crucial!

I’ll be taking six classes, working in the library part-time, caretaking at home, writing several blogs, working on other writing projects, reading close to four hundred different blogs, hopefully having something resembling a personal life…

After spending the past few days keeping track of how I actually spend my time…  I realized I waste a lot of time! Now, I’m all about living a life with broad margins (as Henry David Thoreau once wrote), but I’ve been seriously out of control! There’s really no excuse for playing twenty-seven consecutive games of Snood. That will not work when I’ve got six classes’ worth of papers and projects to do!

What I really need is to budget my time as frugally as I do my money!

Just as in learning to control your money-spending, it will take great self-discipline to rein in my rampant time-spending. I need to re-frame time as being just as valuable as money– Time is something that should be managed carefully to maximize its usefulness. Obviously, the analogy only goes so far– you can always make more money, but you’ve only got twenty-four hours in the day, and that’s it. Still, a subtle change in perception can make a huge difference.

Anyway, I’ve been working on an Excel spreadsheet, similar to my financial budget, to portion out my hours as if they were dollars. I’ll post a screenshot when it’s done.

I know I can stick to a money budget…. but can I stick to a time budget?

Stay tuned for updates….

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I demand my dollar-fifty-two!

Back-to-school shopping time for Christine!

This week, OfficeMax has their 15%-off-everything-you-can-stuff-in-a-paper-bag promotion going on.

It’s a standard sized brown paper grocery bag, and on my shopping safari yesterday I came nowhere near filling it. It can hold a deceivingly large volume of small pricey impulsive things, which is the nefarious plot that lies below the surface of the promotion.

In fact, I only bought about $10.15 worth of various things– a package of highlighters, some index cards, two three-ring binders (good price on the Avery “Durable” ones), a pencil pouch (so I can easily find my stuff, instead of digging around in my backpack for my eraser or pencil leads), and who knows what else. Restraint was used, anyway.

I pay for my loot, and check the receipt before I leave.

And do the math in my head, just to be sure.

There’s no sign of my 15% discount!

The whole ritual of putting-things-in-a-paper-bag-and-get-a-discount was the point of my visit!

Still overpriced, even at 15% off… but oh well.

I went back to the cashier and (sweetly as can be) pointed out the error.

She apologized and gave me my one dollar and fifty-two cents.

I felt a little silly, but I lived up to my end of the contract– I put things into a bag as they required!

Besides, that $1.52 could buy me several ounces of gasoline.

MORAL OF THE STORY:

Always, always, always check to make sure you get any discount you’ve been promised!

Think about the big picture: If 100 people per store, times 1000 stores in the country, don’t get their  $1.52 discount, that’s $152,000 that Office Max has stolen from the people of America.

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When worlds collide

My friend Troy snapped this gem recently.  It speaks volumes.

How the mighty have fallen.

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Salvaging kitchen blunders

This past weekend, I whipped up three pans of cornbread for a cookout.

Somehow, instead of tripling the recipe, I guess I only doubled it. This resulted in three very hard, thin pans of cornbread. I couldn’t serve this dry crummy mess to humans.

Luckily, I had enough ingredients on hand to re-do it correctly. The second time was a charm, with three pans of big thick moist cornbread.

But what to do with the failed batch? It was really inedible, but I couldn’t bear throwing it away. How wasteful. At the very least, I figured  I could feed it to the birds and squirrels.

But wait. I did a quick google search for “hard stale cornbread recipes”… and eventually came up with a recipe for banana-caramel cornbread pudding. Score!

I made it tonight (omitting the bananas because I’m not a fan), and it is fabulous.

“Waste not, want not,” as my dear old mom used to say. It’s amazing what you can do with leftovers and outright blunders when you use a little ingenuity.

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College town bargains

Many personal finance and college blogs lament the marketing of credit cards to jobless college students. Young people often make foolish impulse purchases to support the lifestyle they feel entitled to. True, young adults tend to be big shoppers, and often fail to see the big picture of rampant spending and credit card use.

We can spend all day clucking “tsk-tsk” over their extravagance and wastefulness. Not to mention the reality of many students continuing to pay interest on discarded items for years to come. However, their consumerism can be to your advantage if you live in a college town.

Students tend to leave vast piles of stuff behind when they leave campus for the summer. Many colleges have big year-end sales to liquidate all that stuff.

In fact, I went to the annual Clean Sweep Sale at Bates College (Lewiston, Maine) this morning. Each year, Bates manages to fill an entire hockey rink with students’ abandoned belongings (and some donations from the community). The sale is completely volunteer-run, and all proceeds go to various local charities. Bates, by the way, is an elite college located in the middle of a very poor city. I think it’s a great support service for the community– great bargains for shoppers and needed assistance for charities. Not to mention all that perfectly good stuff being re-used instead of going into landfills.

At the Bates sale, you’ll find piles and piles of clothing, electronics, appliances, dorm/household items, sporting goods, furniture, books, and more. Sure, some of it is pure crap, and the early birds get all the good stuff. Still, there are always treasures to be found. I picked up a few paperbacks and a nice (practically new) purple v-neck top. Total purchase: three dollars. (I hemmed and hawed over one particular solid oak desk with a hutch selling for $25. It wouldn’t fit in my car.)

Anyway, if you live in a college town, it’s worth your while to find out if similar sales are going on. Also, check your local craigslist site for free and inexpensive student discards. It’s daunting to think about the waste involved, but you can help re-use and recycle these discarded items. Always try to take advantage of these opportunities in your area!

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Flip-flops: a guilty pleasure

The calendar still says “Spring”, but the thermometer ‘s telling me, “Mop your sweaty self up off the floor, ‘cuz it’s 90 degrees!”

For me, summer means living in flip-flops.

I happen to like Old Navy’s colorful flip-flops. They’re only $3.50 a pair ($2.50 per, if you buy more than two pairs). Sure, flip-flops are pretty standard in style and construction. Well, except for maybe those toxic Wal-Mart flip-flops. I trust that Old Navy will never disfigure me with chemical burns.

The Old Navy stores “nearest” to me are Augusta and South Portland– 36.5 and 36.7 miles away, respectively. (That’s what I get for living out in the middle of almost-nowhere.) Shipping from oldnavy.com is a flat rate of $7. I figured a 72+ mile round trip (in either direction) will cost me at least that much in gas, so I just ordered from the website. All things being equal, I score in terms of saving time and avoiding wear and tear on my car.

I bought four pairs, by the way– black, brown, “cerulean blue’ and “roasted eggplant”. I will be inexpensively color-coordinated with just about everything I wear.

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Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

These are soooooo good!

OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
¼ cup vegetable shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/3 cups rolled oats
2 cups (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup coconut flakes

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add brown sugar and sugar and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes

Add egg, corn syrup, and vanilla and beat at medium speed for 1-1/2 minutes

Stir in flour (a little at a time) until well-mixed.

Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and coconut.

Refrigerate dough for 10 minutes until firmed up.

PREHEAT OVEN 350 degrees

Place 1-tablespoon-sized balls of dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press down slightly to flatten dough ball on top.

Bake 11-14 minutes. They will seem undercooked, but they will harden up to perfection as they sit.

Makes about 5 dozen.

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