Sunday, December 23, 2007
Someone (I can't remember who) has a thing on her blog called 'Shoestring Sunday' where she talks about things she does to stretch a dollar. That's a great idea, but speaking as someone grappling with a frugality kick that has to stretch one wage over five people, a dog, two cats, two budgies and a mortgage... then 'shoestring' doesn't cut it. Plus it doesn't have the alliteration thing happening which I feel is important to have. So I'm going to have a 'Skinflint Sunday' post.
Have you ever noticed that lovely things come and go, but ugly lasts forever? It's not just a perception; it really does because if you hate the look of something, you won't wear/use/eat it.
First thing.... don't buy anything unless you love it. I have dining furniture that I bought as a stopgap buy twenty years ago. I've never been into the country kitchen look, but my then husband had only 1 afternoon to go shopping with me, so we grabbed something. Anything. I'll probably be buried with these bloody things. In twenty years I haven't been able to shake them. I'd throw a lit match on them, but I'd probably burn the whole house down if I did that, and I'm very fond of my house. It's where I keep my stuff.
So learning from this mistake I don't buy clothes unless I adore them. Sometimes I still make a mistake. I bought a 3-pack of socks a couple of years ago, and one pair was this swirly black design on a white background. "How hip and groovy is this, man?" I said to myself, because I'm down with the current street talk of the young folk. I bought the socks, scampered home, and the next day put them on to go to work.
I'd forgotten that I hate wearing white socks under anything trousery. (It goes back to primary school, when Sally Went bullied me mercilessly for years about many things, one of which was this fashion issue. When Michael Jackson made white socks the 'in' thing over much of the globe, our school was one of the few places too scared to follow his lead.) It was hideous. Every step I took I could see a flash of white (with a bit of swirly black, but it wasn't enough. It wasn't enough, people!!!!!) I had to go home at lunchtime and change my socks. It was interfering with my teaching. I usually perch on top of the teachers desk so I'm taller than all of the giants I teach, but how could I expose my revolting white-socked ankles to the critical eyes of teenagers? I was hiding behind the desk and skulking around the edges of the classrooms all morning. I looked shifty and untrustworthy, which isn't the look an educator of the young should have. (At least I didn't have a bag of lollies with me as well.)
So what did I do with the socks? A lesser woman would've thrown them out. But I, Frogdancer, am made of sterner stuff. I simply wear them on the weekends. Usually Saturday. Housecleaning errand running day. Often I spend the entire day at home, so no-one sees the trauma-causing white flashes as I skip around, and I am able to forget I'm wearing them because there's no one around to recoil in horror if my ankle gets seen. I'm gradually wearing them out, saving my far more acceptable dark socks a day's wear, so it's all good.
Except occasionally you can be caught out. Yesterday I drove Connor (otherwise known as Tadpole) to a friend's house to drop him off at a Christmas party. I had the socks on, shining like a lighthouse with their beacon of whiteness between my jeans and my runners. Little did I realise that I was also invited. Connor forgot to tell me. I was mingling among the general public with my swirly socks on. Imagine my mortification. I needed a couple of glasses of champagne to steady myself.
Until I realised that I was getting the benefit of my second Skinflint Sunday tip, which I will share with you all now.
Shave your head. Or at least clipper it. Most of the people at the party either didn't know me, or hadn't clapped eyes on me for ages, so their attention was on my head and not my feet. (There was another woman there who also had clippered her head, but she'd taken it a step further and had purpled her hair as well. I felt positively conservative...)
Getting the kids to cut your hair saves a fortune in hairdressing bills. It's fantastic. You save $$$ by not needing to blow dry your hair every morning, (though I'll have to spend $$$ on some beanies if I still have this style next winter, so I guess it all evens out.) But there is a small word of caution I have to give, should you be decide to follow my lead. Make sure you choose the child with the clippers carefully.
"Connor, my nimble-fingered 11 year old, I need a haircut. Will you oblige?" I said. (This may or may not be verbatim. This conversation happened days ago, after all.)
"Certainly, mother," he replied in a most agreeable fashion. "I'll go and set everything up."
"Thank you my dear," I said. "I'd like a number 3, if you please."
"No sooner said than done," and he whipped off and got everything out.
When he'd finished I inspected his handiwork in the mirror. There was an awful lot of skull showing in between the hair.
"Prithee, good son," I said, going a little Shakespearean for no apparent reason, "My hair seems somewhat shorter than I'd envisaged. Which numeral didst thou useth?"
Connor glanced down at the clippers. A look of horror crossed his face. "It's a number 2..." he gasped.
So make sure that you use a son or daughter who isn't numerically challenged. Though come to think of it, by using a smaller clipper size... I'm using the same amount of electricity for the greatest amount of hair cuttage!! I've probably saved at least a cent on my power bill. That definitely falls under the heading of Skinflint.
So to sum up....
1. Wear your ugly clothes as often as possible to wear them out, whilst saving your pretty clothes for when you're in public. Your children will love you no matter how frumpy your socks look. They're obliged to. You gave them life, after all.
2. Homemade haircuts save time, money and embarrassment at Christmas parties. Well worth the initial investment of buying the clippers.
3. Then you have enough money to buy your youngest son really expensive gifts and gadgets.( preferably Wii games and stuff like that). It's really worth it. I have to be quiet I'm Tadpole and right now mum (Frogdancer) is taking a photo of the socks. I have to hurr