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Strike While the Iron is Hot

Aunt Toby realizes that anyone looking at my postings would not exactly find a really rigid organization functioning here. The blog really functions the way most of our households do – gotta keep it flexible within certain immutable facts; gotta take advantage of things as they come along. Strike while the iron is hot and all that. (more…)

Cooking Turkey: Accomplishments and the Tyranny of Lists

Recently, Aunt Toby became aware of a movement that seems to be sweeping over the world of Blogistan and that is this business of people’s coming up with huge lists of things that they say they want to do, accomplish, take care of , etc. etc. within a certain period of time.

As the kid says in the old New Yorker cartoon from the 1920s, while poking dubiously into a plateful of something set in front of him, “I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.” (more…)

It’s 8:00 – do you know what’s in your freezer?

ice climbing in a big freezer I know Aunt Toby always sounds a bit like the ant in the fable who ends up with the frozen grasshopper at his front door, but thinking ahead is always a good idea. So, we’re going to take a tour of Aunt Toby’s freezer and talk about the future.

No, that photo at the top is NOT Aunt Toby’s freezer, though there are moments when I gaze into mine and have the same feeling like I’m going to be climbing into it, not knowing what the hell I’m going to find. Do you have that feeling too?

Even when you stock up, and even if you know one week later that you bought chicken on sale, cut it up, packaged it and put it into the freezer, would you know how much you really have and when you put it in there. How about a month later? How about 3 months later?

Are your eyeballs glazing over (and not from the cold air, either – you can shut the door to the freezer now..)?

Aunt Toby is as guilty of ‘lack of inventory management’ as the next person, perhaps more so since I have this really deep seated belief in socking stuff (more…)

Don’t Save Money — SAVE MONEY!!

Money You hear this from people all the time, “I saved xxx much money.” “I got a great bargain; on sale, it was $xxx but I paid $yyy.” “I found a way to only pay, $xxx for thus and such; I saved so much money.”

As many of you know who read my other diaries, I am someone who believes in the power of language. I believe that words and their meanings have almost a magical quality to change our thinking. Think about the phrase “Homeland Security” – think about what THAT’s done to us.

Aunt Toby is here to announce the opening salvo (remember that detergent?) in my war against any of the words starting with the letters: S-A-V. That word and all of its daughter and sons (saved, saving, savings) have basically lost complete meaning. And here is my reason why: People think that “saving money” (that is, paying less for something you are going to buy anyway, or buying something based on the discounted price) is SAVING MONEY.

What you really DID was “NOT SPEND MONEY” or, perhaps more clearly, “NOT SPEND AS MUCH MONEY.” You did not actually SAVE MONEY. (more…)

Don’t be Seduced By All The Bargain Sales Right Now

You’re getting them; I’m getting them. With the state of the retail sector, we’ve all been getting them for at least a month: the most amazing, attractive, drool-worthy emails from retailers that we have (or perhaps have never) either visited, filled a shopping cart for, or purchased something from. (And yes, I do know that ending a sentence with a preposition is ‘a bad thing’, but I could not figure out how to do that sentence without that.)

Now that the holidays are over, it’s even more tempting. I received one today with the headline: “The one you won’t want to miss: $5.99 and UP!!!”

That’s the sort of thing that, except for the fact that I have never been able to use my store credit card to shop ON their site, would have, in the past, had me with the plastic out, clicking off item after “bargain” item. But, I have taken an entirely different philosophy about my closet these days that I would like to share. I think it works for all genders and certainly makes ME feel that I’ve got one more thing under some modicum of control. (more…)

The Light at the End of the Tunnel — and how you and your family can get there faster

moneyOK – everyone comfy? Want more coffee?

We’re back in the kitchen (because that is where the food, the heat and the good seats are). We’ve talked about (to review, in case anyone is taking notes here and no – there are no essay questions on the final) saving money, starting a garden, “doing one thing” to improve your situation, and finding out who your network is.

Today, we’re going to grasp the wriggly monster with both hands: The country is in the toilet. Really. The news gets worse every day. It looks as if we are “staring down the barrel of a gun” and “hitting the wall” – simultaneously. (Being able to do both at the same times is going to take the skills and physique of a contortionist, but I digress.)

And now Elliot Spitzer gets out there and basically says that all the money that has been used to bail out the banks and AIG was wasted – like we didn’t know that already.

But he did talk about something that we WILL talk about which is:
“government investment in the long-range competitiveness of our nation, not in a failed business model…”

What I want you to do, right now (and you know I am all about the “right now”) is to take that phrase “government investment in the long-range competitiveness of our nation” and replace a couple of words so that it reads like this:

“personal investment in the long-range competitiveness of ME” or “family investment in the long-range competitiveness of family members.” (more…)

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, or, Some Really Important Stuff To Know In Today’s Economy

OK, folks, so we are back in the kitchen with Aunt Toby (sing that to the tune of “Strummin’ on the Old Banjo”), which of course is my very favorite place in the world because all sorts of important and useful stuff goes on there. And today’s assignment (you knew that I’d have one of those for you, didn’t you?) is an exercise in what is termed in the biz as “contact management.”

You will need: Paper, pencil, and however you keep your contacts going: Roladex, PDA, address book, file cards, the old scraps of paper on the refrigerator with the grease stains on them, etc. (more…)

The Grasshopper or the Ant: Who’s Going to Survive What Will Be Coming?

For those of us who are of the less optimistic bent, the economic future looks a little dark. There are others who insist on referring to what is happening as “not as bad as the Great Depression.”

I’m here to point out something that tells me that it’s actually going to be worse for a lot of people. (more…)

Just Do One Thing…and Save Money

Right about now, between McCain’s totally spinning out of control (on a personal and on a campaign basis); Palin “going rogue”; banks NOT doing what Paulson promised they’d do with their bailout money, and winter coming on, it’s going to be easy to just throw up your hands and say, “I can’t cope – there is nothing I can do – I’ll just end up sitting in the dark, freezing to death, starving.”

There are a lot of things out there that none of us can control. None of us is going to be able to go to Congress, lock the doors and refuse to let them have access to the bathrooms until they hold Paulson and the financial community accountable.

Ok? Get used to it.

But – on an individual and family basis, as I have written here before, there are a whole lot of things we can do. The problem is: which corner of the elephant do you sink your teeth into first? (more…)

Thrift: It’s Not Just For Your Granny Anymore: Another in a Continuing Series of “The Guide to the Economically Depressed”

food1Ok, you get the fact that life as we know it is over. You also get that things could get a whole lot worse in terms of your life as a consumer before they are going to get better. What you don’t “get” is how you, as an individual, are going to navigate through this period until we all somehow come into the sun (cue sfx of birds singing and cash registers ringing).

A big part of the problem is that the whole concept of “being thrifty” got thrown out the window in about 1982 (more…)

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