The frugal state fair.

th7 The frugal state fair.The county or state fair is one of the biggest money pits in the world. These places exist to part you from your cash, whether it’s for food or rides (or both).

A partial solution: Be a judge at the chili cook-off. I promise you won’t want to eat another bite for the rest of the day, or possibly until the next afternoon.

It’s not that the chili and salsas were bad. Quite the opposite: All were good and most were excellent. But after you’ve had 70 or 80 spoons’ worth, with bites of tortillas and sips of water in between, you simply can’t face any other comestibles.

You might also be averse to any carnival rides that move faster than the average baby can crawl. At the end of the day I did manage one ride, the “1,000 Nights” – a large platform that rotates clockwise, very high and very fast. By the time the first full rotation had ended, I was second-guessing that decision out loud.


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Summer on the wane.

th6 150x150 Summer on the wane.The raspberries are winding down. I was picking from a pint to almost a quart every day for a while. Lately they’re ripening much more slowly and the ones that do ripen seem a bit collapsed and/or partly eaten.

Birds, I figured – until the day I saw wasps and honeybees landing on berries before I could get to them. They’d grab hold, lock on, and start sucking/chewing away.

This was so entertaining to watch that I had a hard time blaming them for bogarting the berries I really, really wanted for the freezer.

Can’t really blame them: I, too, want to extract every last bit of sweetness before the season ends.


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th2 Guest posts, gift cards and loups garou.I did my first-ever guest post on my daughter’s site, I Pick Up Pennies. Always meant to, just never got around to it until this weekend.

“Want to save money? ‘Chop’ your kitchen” was generated by my fondness for a  Food Network program called “Chopped,” which requires chefs to create meals from mystery ingredients. Some of them are delicious and traditional (steak, poultry, seafood) and some are just cruel (durian, goat brains, duck testicles).

Not that I think you should save money by eating fowl balls, mind you. Instead the post suggests that you “chop” your pantry, fridge and freezer, i.e., find ways to use what’s on hand instead of calling out for pizza. The food waste in our country is astonishing. What could eating in more often do for your budgetary bottom line?

Think those leftovers look forlorn? Get creative!


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th10 Accepting responsibility for our lives.Going on two years ago I read a column on Consumerism Commentary called “Nothing bad is my fault: Toxic financial attitudes.” The author, Luke Landes, urges us to look at our personal philosophies, “to determine how they are helping or hurting you.”

I left a comment (more on that in a minute) and always meant to write about it. Better late than really late.

As a young man, Landes looked for “external reasons” (i.e., excuses) when things didn’t go his way. Ultimately a boss called him out on it, suggesting he examine his own thoughts might prevent him from succeeding.

Landes applies the same principle to money mindsets that might hold us back, such as:

  • “I’m in debt because of a financial emergency.”
  • “I keep getting charged fees by my bank, and it’s due to their policies.”
  • “I lost money on my investment.”

Rather than be stunted by these attitudes, he asks that we examine “the effect your choices have on your success and failure.”

Understand: Landes is acutely aware of the very legitimate reasons some people do not succeed. He’s written about why poverty is a bit more complicated than laziness or lack of motivation.

But he’s also convincing when he calls on us to recognize what we could be doing to help ourselves, even – and especially! – if we don’t know quite how or where to start. This advice applies to life situations other than wealth-building.


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th6 Junk food: Sometimes it just tastes good.It’s National Junk Food Day, apparently. And me without a single Moon Pie in the house.

In fact, I’ve eaten quite well today. Breakfast was oatmeal made with half yogurt whey and half water and flaxseed, plus half of the last banana in the bunch (shared with DF, because I’m kind like that).

For lunch I had rice topped with roasted vegetables – carrots, broccoli, Walla Walla onions and home-grown turnip, plus a dish of homemade yogurt mixed with a spoon of homemade orange marmalade and more of that flaxseed.

If only I’d known about the holiday. I might have gone to McDonald’s for breakfast and Burger King for lunch. Nothing says “bad for you” like a single meal that holds all calories needed for the entire day (with way too many in the form of grease).

On the other hand, I did eat white rice instead of brown. So am I junking out sufficient to the day?


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