Cash vs. credit, or good vs. evil

If you've done any research on the best ways to trick yourself into not spending money, using cash is among the top few.  Just stopping is the best, but for those of us who need mind tricks, magic and the occasional medication to curb spending, this is a big one.

When I was young mom would cash my dad's paychecks and put a certain amount of money in envelopes marked "grocery", "clothing", "shoes", "entertainment" and so on. When she was out of cash, that was it for the month until another check came along.  At the time all I remember thinking was how dangerous it was to carry that much cash around.  I've always safety conscious and it made me nervous that we might get car jacked because of my mom's money management skills. 

My birthday horde of cash has reminded me of that because I spent two months carrying that cash everywhere I went, hording it and dreading the day it would run out. 

A few years ago I tried a software program called Mvelopes which does pretty much the same thing my mom did with real envelopes.  Although they would argue it is much better since you have a snapshot of spending and mugging is less likely.  They want you to:

Take control of your money
Get out of debt
Reduce financial stress

That's funny because it is exactly what I want to do, but don't remember it helping much when I tried it before. 

Sickness is the cure for shopping

The past week I've been sick and it has lingered much too long.  But it is a great cure for wanting to shop!  There hasn't been a moment of weakness the past 10 days or so, I'm just hoping to make it to the next day without blowing my lungs out with this massive cough. Even online shopping seemed too much of an effort. 

Perhaps the biggest mistake I've made is promising my daughter that we'd go camping with some of her friends this weekend, when I should be home sleeping all day and trying to recover for another work week. 

The Swine Flu and you

Being sick is never fun, and when you think you've got something horrible, like the swine flu, it is even worse.  I woke up Wednesday night with a slight cough.  Thursday I trotted off to work like a trooper.  Thursday evening we had family portraits, which I had been looking forward to for weeks.  I was hoping it wouldn't be one of those "family" outings that you are excited about, and then it turns into a living nightmare where nothing goes well.  My children, (teenagers plus 1), were spit polished and ready on time.  They all looked amazing and very handsome.  My mother came because I wanted some shots of her with the teenagers and she was looking dandy as well.  The photographer was great and I think we will have some outstanding pictures.  Can't wait. 

Afterward we went to sushi and I started feeling really yucky.  Anytime I can't eat sushi is time to ring a high alarm.  So on Friday I sashayed off to the doctor who pronounced that my swine flu test, while negative, is only accurate to about 70% and since I had all the symptoms, they would treat me with tamiflu.  I'm going to watch movies and clean out my e-mail box.  Normally I would shop online to heal my soul, but why shop now?  I'm doing so well…other than the hacking cough and death flu.

Shout out to simplicity

We drove for 5.5 hours yesterday to drop my nephew off at his summer job.  He lives in Seattle but decided he needed to work on the edge of my universe.  He is a great kid and flew in a couple of months ago for his interview.  That time I schlepped him to his appointment, out to eat, home to sleep and back to the airport the next day, which was a walk in the park compared to the 11 hour round trip over two days.  But I adore him and he's my older sister's kid and I'm still afraid of her from the time she whacked me over the head with a phone when I was 10. OK, I adore her too and know she would do the same for me. 

So off we went, sandwiches packed, car gassed up and more Ipods per person than is legal. 

The lodge is called Jacob Lake Inn and has been in the same family for a million years.  Long story, but we know the owners and they are some of the nicest people you could ever meet.  Best cookies in the world.

We arrived around 7pm and sat down to eat dinner when we realized that 3 out of 4 of our cell phones didn't work.  The conversation went something like this:

Nephew: my phone doesn't work

Me: bummer

Nephew: but my phone doesn't work

Me: bummer

Nephew: take me back now

Which of course we didn't.  We just left him there like the bad relatives we are, and because its good for him.  He'll need a phone card, but probably won't know how to work the payphone. Can you imagine a teenager without a cell phone?  Apparently there are only a couple of service plans that work out there, it is a miracle they find kids to work there every summer.  Maybe they don't tell them until after they get there and are watching their parents pull away.  "Kid, did we mention your cell phone won't work"- followed by an evil cackle.  Their parents pull up at the end of the summer and the kids fingers are shriveled up and bony from lack of texting. 

The room we stayed in didn't have a phone, or a television- when they said "Rustic Cabin", I thought they meant I had to bring my own shampoo.  The lack of television made my boyfriend break into hives.  Everywhere we go he brings a gadget that has a lifetime of movies and TV shows on it.  We hook it up and after driving for 5.5 hours he's happy to sit and watch Bones, or Star Trek or whatever. Gosh, the guy deserves a break.  But no TV.  Tragedy.  No cell service.  World ending.  Mine was the only phone that worked and we spent half the night texting the world to let them know they could reach him through me.  

The next morning we went on a hike!  And saw nature!  And enjoyed it! 

Simple, rustic, relaxing, fun.  Maybe we should all work in a lodge this summer. 

100 Days Sober!!!

On June 9th he 100 day mark came and went and I missed it!  Shopping-less-ness for 100 days.  If you had asked when I started if I'd make it, I would have laughed, guffawed and probably spit up a little.  I was going to celebrate by wearing something I haven't worn in 10 years or dancing around naked under a full moon. 

Now I'll just have to wear that little something because I'M RUNNING OUT OF CUTE CLOTHES.  Not.  But still it has been hard and I'm proud. 

Garage sale party progress

I've told a couple of friends I'm getting ready for my "Friends Only" garage sale/BBQ/Wine tasting/drunken fun time.  There is some excitement building, which should keep me on track to keep finding things to pile on.  Here is a pic of my progress so far:


Not impressive yet, but I'm hoping the pile grows by leaps and bounds.  It might be easier to just mark things I want to keep, then let my friends run wild like crazy sale shoppers and take everything else…

Garage sales and crazy Party Time!

The garage sale season is in full swing, which means when you try to drive down any neighborhood street, you are fighting with everyone trying to park and grab the best stuff before anyone else.  That stuff typically consists of junk, which is why my mom and her sisters used to call it "junking" when they would go to garage sales. But people love junk which is evidenced in the mass hysteria every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the good weather months.  It amounts to a junk transfer-

"here, you take my junk so I can go look for more junk next weekend, haul it home and re-junk it next year."

I used to LOVE garage sales and yesterday I found myself dangerously swerving toward one in my neighborhood.  The fact of the matter is that none of us need more stuff, but we sure love collecting more, more more!! 

So I've decided to take the concept of a garage sale and twist it up a bit.  I'm going to have a "Take My Junk" Fundraiser/Party.  I've started collecting stuff I would have either sold on eBay, given away or sent to the thrift store.  It will be out on a few tables and I'll raise any money I make for a charity.  The worst part of a garage sale is pricing everything, so I think I'll just let people donate whatever they think something is worth, which in itself will be an interesting social experiment.  Will someone drop in a nickle for the painting I paid $60.00 for, or will they give more because they know it is going to charity?  

It seems like a good reason to have a party and BBQ, hang out with my friends and hopefully at the end of the party I'll only have as much stuff as a college kid.  Probably not, but it is a nice thought.   The next few weeks will be an interesting mix of putting stuff on the giveaway table, taking it off, talking myself into putting it back on and negotiating in my head.  No I'm not totally crazy, but maybe just a bit so. 

High School Graduation, or almost Buck Naked

This is graduation week and I'm partied out.  My twins are juniors this year, but many of their friends walked this year and I attended the graduation ceremony with them at their high school, which I thought was above and beyond for a tired mom.  As I sat there watching these children (I refuse to call them adults with their undeveloped brains), get ready to go out into the world I thought about my own transition to college.  I went to a small junior college in Idaho.  My dad packed up our car and drove me out there.  That means everything I owned fit into the back seat of a station wagon.  Remember those?  Everything I owned.  Station Wagon.  College.  Once I got there it all fit into a very small room.  It was a long time ago but from what I remember it was a few boxes and a suitcase.  My dad carried them into the dorm, left me there and drove back to Seattle.  Basically kicked me out of the car and probably chuckled the whole way back. 

The point is that all these graduates are making that same transition with probably about the same amount of stuff I started my adult life with, and it wasn't much.  Although today's kids might have slightly more than just a few boxes, because a lot of them are so SPOILED. 

Yesterday I kept thinking about the last 20 odd years since I left college and how the hell I acquired so much stuff.  Where did it all come from, and how can I get rid of it as fast as possible?  Garage sale? Box it all up and take it to a thrift store?  One idea I had was to throw a huge party, put out everything I don't want and take donations for charity.  Something like a "I'm Giving It All Away" bash.  A little wine, a little laughing and the next day I'd have about as much stuff as a college graduate.  I like it. 

Facebook Clutter

I'm eBaying today if I have to stay up all night.  Because I've been TOTALLY LAX in the de-cluttering department.  In fact my birthday money is sending things in the completely wrong direction and I need to purge some stuff to make up for the "birthday presents".  Yes, it is total rationalization, but I don't feel like a cheater when I spend BDay money to buy something.  I'm also hoarding the $$$ in case a nice pair of Christian Louboutin shoes appear somewhere for $20.00. Not likely but a girl can hope.  

Earlier today I went to a "Social Media" presentation for a marketing forum.  There was a lot of talk about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media.  It is such a buzz topic and frankly, I'm kind of sick of it.  Things aren't the only way to clutter your life.  As an example, my father died a year and a half ago.  After he retired, he and my mother served a voluntary mission in the Philippines for their church.  They were there for three years and in charge of a couple hundred men and women in their early 20's.  Since he passed away, someone made a Facebook "tribute" page to him, which is sweet and sentimental.  However, some of their former missionaries are now trying to link to me on Facebook.  When I visited my parents in the Philippines I met a handful of them.  But most of them trying to FB me I've never even met. My life is so full of e-mail, text, twitter, facebook and so much mind clutter that I think maybe I'd better throw all of it  out along with stuff that is going on eBay, going to the Salvation Army and being given away.  It is driving me NUTS!  I don't want to be mean, but who needs all those friends.  Not me, I can barely handle the ones I've got.