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Putting food by.

GetAttachmentThe photo is a glimpse of harvest mania at Chez DIY. Those underachievers in the small glass dish are strawberries picked from our tiny patch, which we hope to expand in years to come.

In the bowl and large measuring cup are four quarts of raspberries that DF and I picked in an evening, quitting before we’d gotten them all. We’ve already frozen 14 quarts of the things for his oatmeal and my homemade yogurt, and also to eat the Alaska way: only partially thawed and with a big dump of sugar.

On the left are jars of jam I’d made from a previous session; it’s the second batch I’ve made this year. Seeing those jars gives me the urge to make another one.

Not that we need a third batch, or maybe even that second one; we’re still using up jam from last year. But I don’t want the backyard bounty to go to waste — and part of me doesn’t even want to give them away.

That’s the part of me that feels, every year, that primal urge: Winter is coming. Put food by.

 


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thThe response to my early-June reboot of “Surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year” was humbling. It was great to see reader comments about the impact this piece had on their lives.

When the post originally ran (January 2007) it got more response than anything else MSN Money published that year. The editor immediately said, “Write another one.” So I did.

The headline I chose was the one you see above; it got changed to “Living ‘poor’ and loving it.” (I refrain from comment.)

I’ve decided to re-boot the second piece as well, again in its original format vs. the MSN-edited version. Once again, asterisks indicate that updates can be found at the end.

Comedian Dick Gregory grew hungry and cold in an impoverished home. Yet his mother always assured the kids, “We ain’t poor, we’re just broke.”

 


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The frugal sybarite.

thSome habits that I consider opulent would make other people sneer. To each her own, I suppose. Myself, I happen to think taking a long, hot bath with a good book in (dry) hand is a tremendous luxury – especially if there’s a glass of iced tea or a Diet Coke handy.

(Hint: Even if the soft drink is already cold, put it in the freezer for 15 minutes or so before you run the bath. The contrast of the hot-as-you-can-stand water and the icy beverage is delightful.)

Hanging our laundry to dry in the sun leads to another luxury: falling asleep surrounded by the fragrance of the sun and the wind. Some people would say the sun has no odor. I beg to differ.

DF and I sometimes joke about being “frugal sybarites.” The fact is, a sumptuous lifestyle doesn’t necessarily require a lot of dollar signs.

 


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thHere’s today’s neologism, and it’s a great one: “pre-solvent.” It comes from a comment on one a Money Talks News article called “The real reason Americans struggle to save.”

The article cited a couple of surveys that put the fault not in our stars, but in our cards: “Lifestyle spending” and “lack of financial discipline” kept anywhere from 44 to 71 percent of respondents living paycheck to paycheck and/or prevented them from achieving financial goals.

I’d like to point out that underemployment, lack of education and impossible-to-pay medical bills can also hinder the ability to save. But I agree that the “buy now, figure out how to pay for it later” attitude is definitely nudging some folks toward insolvency.

Which brings us to pre-solvency. A commenter named “Y2K Jillian” writes that she and her husband lived paycheck to paycheck for years and loathed the lifestyle. But change happened.

How? “Gradually, gradually.” Which is how I’d bet it happens for a lot of people.

 


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thRecently a relative was sitting on a tailgate with her dog’s leash wrapped around her wrist. The dog suddenly bolted, slamming her arm against the side of the vehicle.

No broken bones, fortunately, but it hurt like heck and she’ll probably have to pony up co-pays for the emergency room visit and X-rays.

Our furry friends can cost us plenty even if they never cause any critter-human mishaps. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the total annual cost for dogs is between $1,314 and $1,843. All you crazy cat people will shell out about $1,035 per year for your little purrmeisters.

Those figures include food, medical care, dishes and the like – but not related costs such as the need to board a pet when you travel or to pay more for homeowners insurance or renter’s insurance if the company deems your pet an attractive nuisance (e.g., a “biting breed”).

Should we put a price on love? You bet.

 


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