Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Poppets glow. Human learns to conserve.

We've been having some more fun with glow pigments. Poppets like glow-in-the-dark, for sure.
As many of you know, Poppets like having their photos taken. It's just one of those weird things about them. They like shiny things too.

I passed a billboard that stated: Recession 101; It's a test. It's not the final. Of course I looked it up.
I don't know if I buy into the campaign completely, but I've certainly approached this recession as a strength builder. It beats panicking. I tried that. It got me nowhere. I'm a small business owner. Panic is the kiss of death. No, thank you.

I've learned to get by with less, waste less, conserve more and live more simply. I'm learning what works, and what doesn't. For instance, I'll buy the cheap napkins, but not cheap ketchup. A whole chicken will feed the crew better than fast food. I stopped buying iced coffee (I can make it at home.) and going through the car wash. I can use less expensive paints for some purposes, but red, black and white have to be high quality. One way I've saved in the studio is to buy pure primary colors and mix shades from those. I've found I can save a lot on cleaning by buying bleach, ammonia and vinegar and making my own. But to do that you have to invest in good spray bottles. Despite the fact that stores offer giant refills for spray cleaners, the nozzles are designed to die when the product is used up.
(Once in a while I panic, for a minute or two.)

These are little things, but they add up, just like turning off lights. Mostly what's helped me save is to think before I spend money, or use something, asking myself whether I need this now, or at all, or whether this is the best alternative, or if there's a less costly way. One thing I've had to consider is the value of time. That's a factor. If I can hand-sand a piece without using electricity, that's a good thing. If it takes an hour instead of 15 minutes, it's not.

I'd be interested to hear your list, if you have one, of what you'll let go of, or cheap out on, and what you won't give up.



mordicai said...


lisa said...

mordicai: did they scare you, hon? Those naughty little Poppets.

Drinne said...

I find I'm doing sort of the opposite - I'm preparing to to be unemployed by prepaying things I know I will consider luxury items if I actually am - like joining Longwood Gardens or the full season of the ballet. I'm a member at two museums now so that I won't have to pay entry fees next year if I have no disposable income.

We cut back on schooling - we do intense tutoring at home now instead of specialized programs with experts ( my children are non standard - I am SHOCKED, SHOCKED I tell you . . .) We were planning on moving the younger one from private to public school anyway, so it wasn't a sacrifice to not have a choice.

We already economized on food, limited our eating out, taught the children to appreciate leftovers, don't buy lunches at work or at school.

Unfortunately, sacrificed to economic reality - I went on a Poppet Diet (One Poppet per pay unless it makes me cry)

But I have been VERY poor growing up and once again as an adult. Poor to the level that is now called euphamistically called "food insecure" so I have also learned that there are some things not to give up, because you sell too much of yourself when you do it.

And I think I'm donating to more charity now, because that's an area where people cut back first, and those charities need help more now than ever.

I'm also pre-paying my son's final year at camp - he'd been on scholarship every year until the last two and there are people who will need it more than we do even if I am income free next year.

But my car is energy efficient and paid off - my home is secured, We only have my student loans and manageable debt, we're pretty green and I'm a good cook. We have been worse off than we will be in the current circumstance before. Poverty with dignity and intelligence is survivable, and I have an amazing support network, and most importantly I am not going to be that poor again.

The thing that scares me the most is the possibility of becoming depressed, because that will affect us economically far worse than our gas bill. You have to have energy to rebuild after setbacks, so I'm insulating us as much as I can so that I'll still have "a life" to keep me going through whatever happens next.

Anonymous said...

"I'd be interested to hear your list, if you have one, of what you'll let go of, or cheap out on, and what you won't give up."

When I was laid off at the start of November 08, we were looking at a potentially long stretch of having zero income (apart from unemployment) in our family. We immediately acted to cut costs:

* We got rid of our land line and relied on our cellphones.
* We got rid of cable (dish, actually) TV and relied on antenna, Netflix and Hulu.
* We stopped all eating out and convenience foods.
* We started making our own bread, soft cheese, laundry detergent, shampoo, body scrub.
* We stopped all incidental spending including using up existing lotions and toiletries.
* We really started using the library.
* We planned and executed a frugal holiday season:
Thanksgiving: potluck with friends, we brought soup.
Christmas: no gifts for mom/dad, handmade/sewn gifts, clearance kids art supplies and a $2 Barbie (yay coupons) all wrapped in Sunday comics -- plus some help from family -- for the little one.
New Years: snug at home.

We did put off some necessary expenses that we are now catching up on (like car maintenance). We never gave up organic milk and eggs or quality meats and produce.

Five and a half months later, we got new work -- and a whole lot of perspective.

During that time we didn't miss the phone or TV, we ate better than we had in years, we had some of the best holidays ever. Our personal new normal has officially arrived.

kuroshii said...

the bleach and the ammonia need to be kept at opposite ends of the house--or one in the house and one in the studio--so that nobody is tempted to use them at the same time or one right after the other or (god forbid) mix them, ever. toxic fumes would result.

< /doom-and-gloom >

i've done multiple stints of unemployment. learning what is and isn't worth paying "extra" for goes a LONG way psychologically as well as financially. just a little bit of "me-money" every month keeps one from feeling totally deprived.

Miss Bliss said... inspiring. We've recently started some cutting back as well. Satellite TV, phone services, unplugging the extra fridge in the garage that we really don't use right now, almost no eating out, making our lunches, etc. Like most people who make their living in the arts/entertainment industry (not the big money end, the low paying but ain't it cool and fun end) I've always lived on the smaller side of life. I've never made a car payment in my life. All cars have been used and paid for with cash. I can go years without buying shoes and luckily my work only requires that I wear jeans and t-shirts. We too have been eating better than ever, surprising ourselves with creative cooking and spending time listening to recorded books that we already have but enjoy hearing again. The truth is we have enough, my husband and I are both blessed with jobs right now, we have a place to live, we have food in the house and we are both healthy. I wish everyone had the same.

Syd said...

You know, I started what turned into a long comment that really added nothing to the discussion and was beginning to sound both whiny and self-justifying. So I scrapped it.

Suffice it to say, since quitting my job in Soul-Sucking Corporate America in July 2004 with (not very well developed) plans to freelance as a proofreader/copyeditor, I have made a series of truly stupid financial decisions (with a few exceptions), spent a whole lot more than I ought on things I didn't need--not even big things, just bunches and bunches of little things--and am now in a rather large hole of my own design. I will not say things are dire, but 20/20 hindsight is really beating me up right about now.

So certain purchasing patterns have to go on hold, and I have to get rid of the tendency I still seem to have, that tells me I don't have to actively seek work because, just as happened in Corporate America, someone will come along, tell me to do something, then pay me to do it.

I am chronologically old enough that there is more than a little shame attached to the realization I have been shooting myself in the foot for five years. That I am, nonetheless, better off than several billion of our planet's other residents is fairly effective at shutting down the "Poor Me" syndrome. And I am fortunate to have several talented people in my corner who want to help me succeed.

I guess I just have to get out of my own way.

I admire the honesty of the other posters, and wish--for all of us--good fiscal health as well as the other necessities of life (good physical and emotional health, good friends, good music, good food, etc...)

p.s. I lust after numerous of the October Poppets. But I console myself with the idea of being, sooner rather than later, prosperous enough to commission a few. :)

Benton Warren said...

First off, wow. The pics of the glow in the dark Poppets came out great! Not to mention that the Poppets themselves are SWEET! Ha!
And on the discussion about conserving... Ugh! Don't get me started! It's been nothing but conserving since January. On the plus side, I can make a pretty good pizza crust or loaf of bread from scratch now!

K said...

Conserving. Hmmm.

First off... for all of our adult lives, pretty much, my husband and I have been students. Four years of undergrad, followed immediately by my first Master's, after which he did his, after which we had two years in which we were both temping before I started my second.

We're both savers because we know we might need it later, and so by now I hardly know what is economising and what is just us.

But for what it's worth:

We've never had a car. We do have bikes, maintenance costs for which seem to be under £100 per year, which we can live with (and it saves on bus fares).

Our computers are Frankenstein's monsters, originally built from the best-value parts we could find, and since upgraded using Freecycle finds and bits of friends' old ones. Our mobile phones are hand-me-downs from my Dad (who gets upgrades with his contract, and then pays a small fee to keep the old handset). Other than that, we spend a looong time looking for good deals on equipment such as our digital camera (shared). I've recently suggested we get a Roomba vacuum cleaner, and I suspect we'll take six months or so over that, too. And if we decide we don't need it, we won't get it.

As it happens, the local budget supermarket has most of what we want (and it is also the closest). We buy what we want from there, but J is very good at spotting trends in the prices and buying non-perishables when the price is low. I grow some of our own vegetables; it's been a bit hit-and-miss whether this saves us money, but a packet of seeds costs pennies. We rarely eat out at the moment.

My mother cuts my hair, and I have been known to cut J's.

What we do spend money on: I buy books, probably at the rate of one every couple of weeks.

I buy yarn for my knitting; if I can find cheap yarn I like, fine, but if I have to pay £10 for a skein of hand-dyed sock yarn that I love, then it's worth it for the knitting pleasure (as well as supporting a local craftsperson). At the moment I only knit small projects and buy a sweater if I need it, because there is no way to knit a sweater cheaper than you can buy it. Hats and gloves, yes.

I will also buy a latté and a sandwich from a coffee shop three days a week (when I'm working out of the house). I can't really justify it, as I could easily bring a sandwich from home, but it is a price I am willing to pay because it gets me out of the office.

J is not a spender. He'll buy the occasional CD, but that's about it. I suspect that if I didn't live with him, I wouldn't be so aware of what I spend, and I still sometimes feel guilty for buying stuff when he's so unmaterialistic. Such is life.