Saving Money, Cutting Back: How We’re Faring

First, I have to say, no amount of financial loss and continued tightening in my family can compare with the losses that this week’s Sendai earthquake and tsunami have brought to the families of the people who have lost their homes, livelihoods, and lives. I have been watching BBC news nearly non-stop since. Even though I’m physically here in the US, my mind has been in Japan.  Thoughts and prayers for the Japanese people.

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Old-style rabbit ear antenna, Best Buy, $10

This has been our first week without cable tv.  I don’t think I’ve been without access to cable since the mid-80’s when I was in NEED of having MTV. Since then I’ve grown past MTV and into using TV as a tool for learning and for enjoying particular shows with my family members. Only lately did I start getting into some of the prime-time shows, having the tv playing more than cartoons on Boomerang or Cartoon Network. or gardening shows, or Westerns.

Psycological Aspects

This week, even though we have Netflix, I started craving certain aspects of tv. We’d watch a couple of things on Netflix then turn off the tv. I started missing the non-stop entertainment playing in the background while I used my computer or did household chores. Then I realized another thing I was missing – commercials. :O Who’d ever say such a crazy thing! I’d always fast-forward past the commercials, but now I was missing them? I must have gotten used to the mix of shows+commercials, and now I was going through withdrawal.

In the meantime, I missed several shows that played this week, namely The Event, Hot in Cleveland, The Big Bang Theory, and my regular Saturday night Britcoms. I am not happy about missing my britcoms and I can’t find them streaming online anywhere. Grr.

Solutions

I’ve been able to find most everything of favorite series online, minus the britcoms online. At first I thought I’d have to go to all the network sites, and watch the episodes of each show I missed. I’d done that to catch up on the first few episodes of The Event, which my sister recommended I watch.

Here’s a list of some of the things I’m working on and testing to replace nearly all my cable tv, a lot of which is just free shows that the cable companies charge you to view. Cable companies very much need to rethink their cable fees. I don’t hate them, I just can’t pay their prices any longer.

* Rabbit Ears – I bought a pair of $10 rabbit ears from Best Buy yesterday. I was SO curious what stations I could get without cable. It was extremely easy to hook up – nothing to it. I had an immediate flashback to the 60’s as I pulled up on the antenna, trying to get reception. A really weird thing but I was amazed at the high definition reception of my 6 channels. Unless I turn the rabbit ears in another direction and then I get 11 channels.  Most of the channels are stuff I don’t watch, but I will get network stations (minus ABC which I can’t seem to pick up) plus PBS, and 24/7 news plus local news. For $10 it’s great. I may look into better antennas later (better reception, more channels) and will post again on that if I do.

* Boxee – absolutely great application. Download to your desktop and view shows. Reminders for new shows. Superior interface.  This app is a must. Problems: won’t play Hulu stuff (or does but there’s no sound). Hulu won’t allow Boxee to play stuff you can find on Hulu.

* Hulu – I haven’t checked out Hulu Plus yet and don’t know what it entails, but I’ve been able to play the missed episode of Hot in Cleveland. I’m sure I can find more on there but I’m a little overwhelmed by all the other options right now; will sift through Hulu more this week.

* Web page of links – Can’t find everything on Boxee or Hulu?  There are a bunch of sites that have things to watch that will keep one entertained for a long time. I’ll be making a webpage for myself with the links to what I like. All organized, and I won’t have to search and dig through Google to find a series I want to watch. 30 Sites to Watch Free TV and Movies Online – a very helpful start. Add to it your own favorites  (I like Martha Stewart and Veria.com videos), list on a webpage, and you’ll have an easily accessible list of what you watch regularly. Save our links on PBWorks, Pen.io, any free site, or to your own paid-for website. I think I’m going to do mine on Pen.io – you can create any page name you want, and don’t have to login to it to access the information – just type the url and you’re there.

All this may not be as easy as having cable, but it’s fun to see how much you can do yet still cut back.

Resume Seeks Target

New Archer (by VRES on DeviantArt.com)My husband’s work has been cut back for the third time in 4 months. In November it was $200 a month. Not happy but not a problem. Then in December it was nearly $500. Yikes. That’s $700 reduction in two months. We’ve been very tight. Since I’ve not been able to find work for two years, we’re kinda been barebones living. Nothing but mortgage, bills, utils, gas, food, and stuff our kids need. I haven’t bought clothes for myself for years and years.

So yesterday he calls me and told me we’re in trouble. He’s losing a large part of his work now and we’re not going to make it without a second income. He has to look and I have to look. (I’ve been looking!) Cutting back isn’t going to help – there’s not enough left to cut back to compensate for the loss.

However, we can save about $100 a month on cable tv. So, it’s going. 😦 We’re not going to have any tv. I’ve never been without tv in my entire life. I’m not a tv lover or anything. It’s a tool that I use for a variety of things. I will miss it. My husband and I love to watch Westerns together, and my son and I relax with some cartoons. We’ll not have these things until I don’t know when.

It’s hard when you have to cut all the things you enjoy out of your life when there’s no money. For me, I haven’t been shopping in years. No shopping. No expensive health foods+supplements – you can only buy what you must have if you get ill. No trips. No books. No electronics. We’ve got stuff to be repaired and can’t do it. Now no tv. Slowly all the enjoyable things have slipped away from me. Forget about going for a cup of Starbucks coffee – all that stuff dropped long ago.

The scary thing is…when you’re cutting your tv due to the fact that you have to because it’s the last thing to go that’s not absolutely necessary…it makes me wonder if it’s going to be enough (of a savings) and what will happen if we can’t find work? We have nothing left to cut. We could sell our truck, but that leaves my son and I without reliable transportation. Are we going to go down further than where we are now? When you think it’s rock bottom it’s not. Not in this economy. You can go deeper, further.

We pray daily for not only us, but the others all over the US and the world who are enduring much financial difficulties due to this state of affairs. I wish everyone ease in their difficulties, and may we be guided by frugality and practicality so that we can not only get through these issues, but never find ourselves burdened financially again.

So, I job hunt. Again and again. My bow is my computer, my arrow is my resume. One day I have to come back with meat!

Young, Older, Oldest

There’s been a lot of talk in my family about age and birthdays lately.Yesterday, my daughter left her teenage years and is now 20. TWENTY! Twenty years ago I gave birth to her. It’s gone so so so fast. Twenty years ago I was in MY twenties. Sometimes I feel like 20, but I look in the mirror and see someone who’s definitely not 20 anymore.

Now, I’m 48. Nearly 50! FIFTY. My husband is already fifty. Amazing. In the past five years my skin on my hands has lost some elasticity. No more pulling it up and having it spring back immediately. It weirdly stays suspended for a second. And it’s all alligator-like. I told my mom I have old lady hands. She told me, “No yours are bad yet. Just wait!” haha Unlike my husband, I’m not grey at all. Yet. But I’m having some older-age health issues. I’d trade them all for a head of salt-and-pepper hair if I could, even though illnesses have their own blessings.

My Dad is 71 today. SEVENTY ONE years old! Amazing. Mom’s 70. Dad says he can’t believe he’s married to a seventy year old. haha My Dad is still a little kid, really. He says funny things in rhyme all the time. I always go “Oh Dad…” and roll my eyes, like I’m still a teenager. His stuff is that ridiculous. He’s been a plumber all his life, and still says goofy stuff like “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” Immature. Like a kid.

My Aunt Dot – she turns 90 this year. NINETY!!! Wowee way to go, Aunt Dot. She has a 4th of July barbeque each year. I went two years ago – I don’t know how many more she’s going to be having. Her house looks and smells and feels the same as it did when I was 7.

My grandmother died when I was 7 months pregnant with my son, 16 years ago. She was 96. She was healthy and vital until her last couple of years. She was born in the 1800’s, lived through WWI and WWII, in which Grandpa fought. She survived four heart attacks and the death of my Grandpa in the ’60’s. I asked her one day if she remembers when Amelia Earhart (my childhood hero) went down. I asked her if she remembers before there were cars and planes. I’m sure I was wide-eyed listening to her talk about watching horses and buggies go up and down the front of her house in Ohio.

Dear God, I hope I live to be over 90, in good health, vital, with old lady skin and white hair, I want to take walks with my grandkids and take them out for ice cream and buy them books, like Grandma did with me.

Old age is something I look forward to experiencing.

Homely

I’m making muffins this morning – everything natural. Whole grain, butter, eggs, milk. Chose some bananas and cranberries to add to the mix this morning.

When I pulled the muffins out of the stove, it reminded me of something my daughter said last night.

Daughter: “Mom’s getting more homely.”

Me: *laughs* “What?” … (when I think of the word “homely” I think it means “unattractive” as opposed to “homemaker type”)

Daughter: “You know, you’re doing more homely things around the house, cooking and taking care of everything.”

Me: “Oh I see’…”

Homely = win! (doesn’t it?)