Monday, May 11, 2009

frugal footwear

Before I totally lose any street cred I once had as a knit blogger, I figure I should show you some actual knitting.

I recently declared that I would be much more frugal with my knitting and sewing for the foreseeable future. So I'm putting my money where my mouth is:

Matchy-matchy socks for me and Daughter! Aren't they cute?

I am all about trying new sock yarns that I can afford, and I got this Joann Sensations "soles and more" with two coupons and a Christmas gift card. (As an aside, whenever I see this brand of yarn at my local Joann's, I want to say it with jazz hands..."sen-SAAAAYYYY-shuns!" Ok, so I am a loser. What can I say?)

Anyway, two skeins of yarn made two pair of socks, with my Daughter's choice of navy blue solid for the toes. I knit mine in my usual way, 60 stitches on size 2 needles, top-down. Daughter's are knit with my usual 48 stitches on size 2 needles, but hers are toe-up.

I have a love/hate relationship with toe-up socks. I want to love them, but all that wrapping and turning and trying to avoid holes makes me crazy. However, if you are trying to be frugal and use up what you have, toe-up is the way to go, because you can just knit till you run out of yarn. I figured I wouldn't have quite enough to make two complete socks for her, so I had her choose a solid toe color. I could have made it with just the leftovers, but the socks would have been a little skimpy. I prefer she have taller socks for our chilly Buffalo winters.

Once I finished these, my immediate urge was to head out and check out the local Michael's store, which is totally revamping its yarn department this spring. I know there are some major bargains to be found...but then my allergy to spending kicked in, and I used my cash to get some groceries for the week instead.

As for right this minute, AJ is sleeping, Daughter is at the playground with my mom, and I have a sweater to finish for Hubs' boss and his wife, who are expecting a baby girl this summer. It's yet another Knitting Pure and Simple neck-down cardigan (I think I have made at least a dozen of those by now)...and it is knit from stash yarn, of course. It's a stunningly beautiful day, too, so I think I'll park it outside with my tea and my needles and just enjoy a few precious minutes to myself.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

going green

Home inspection went well, all is moving along. Still waiting on the clown attorneys to set an official closing date for our old house, but they assure us all is well and it will be "soon." Did our mortgage application last week, now we just sit on our bottoms and wait. In NY it takes anywhere from 30 days to (supposedly) 60 days to close on a house, but we are at about 75 and counting on our old house. It is up to the purchaser's attorney and the bank attorney to set everything up; we will basically be the last to know when it's a go. What a pain. Oy.

Anyway, on to the point of this post - going green. No, it is not a post about being all granola-crunchy-tree-huggy. Not at all. It is a post about CASH. Cold, hard, green cash.

I have decided to quit the credit card habit except in the case of pumping gas (so I won't have to drag 2 kids into a gas station every time I fill up). Our new home will be so much more expensive than our old one that we need to keep the budget tighter than ever. I've recently developed the strong opinion that going to a cash-only system for our purchases will help us with that. Hubs disagrees - he believes you can "track" your purchases better with a credit card...but I believe you can use cash and when it's gone, that's it. You know what you bought when you had to think about it carefully and give up the green.

Today, I proved the point to myself. I took out some actual green cash money at the ATM, and went shopping for the groceries I needed. It was amazing how fast that money disappeared, and I only bought the bare minimum. Normally I would have purchased more. Then, this afternoon, I swung by walmart because that's the only place in town that sells any kind of teething biscuit. I had plans to buy the biscuits and beat feet out of there, but you know walmart. That place (and Target) are like heroin to me...I browse around, just checking stuff out, looking for sales, etc.

Today I found, and PASSED UP:

Large spools of coats & clark thread on clearance for $.75 each
Plain, solid-color tee shirts in my son's size for $2.50 each
Gerber undershirts that I've kind of been wanting for AJ, but did not need for $7.00
Fabric, ooooooh fabric
Yarn and yarny accessories
Sewing patterns
Adorable buttons for knitting/sewing projects

And there was probably more. I mean, I had two spools of that thread in my hands, in neutral colors, perfect for sewing just about anything...and then my brain slapped me upside the head. Did I really NEED those threads? In a year or two or three when I finally broke them out and used them, would I even care that I got them for $.75? Do I want to store them for that long before I need them? Gosh, no wonder I have so much crap! I am a credit card junkie crack whore*! Seriously! In the not-too-distant past I would have totally loaded up on those threads for that price. I would certainly have grabbed a few tee shirts for the kids. But when my brain asked me if I wanted to hand over actual green cash money for that stuff? WOW. Wowwy, wow, wow.

I can't believe I've gotten to this point. Remember when you babysat in high school and you were so psyched to have like, $50 in cash to spend at the Gap? And you were careful(ish) about what you bought, because that was all the money you had and when it was gone, it was gone.

I have forgotten how to live like that.

Today at walmart I walked out with a box of biter biscuits, 4 jars of baby food, and one pair of white socks that my son actually desperately needs. My total was $4.47 because I was paying CASH. If I had been using plastic? That total would have easily been $15-$20. And you know what? It truly hurt to hand over that $5 bill! Because hey, guess what, now it's gone!

This is going to be a painful experiment, I can tell. But I think it's going to be successful in the long run. If I can get my husband to play along, and so far he is but it's only been a few days, well then we might actually get somewhere with paying down debts and sticking to our budget.

*We pay our bill off every month, though. Never carry a balance, never pay fees/interest charges. But shoot, how does it get up over $1000 each month? And what the heck did I buy on those 4 trips to Target? I DON'T EVEN KNOW.