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Gazingus pins and other ways to save...

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I've been doing "money saving" things that you find on most "101 ways to save money" kinds of websites for years,...( i.e. "clean with vinegar", "use reusable rags instead of paper towels", "don't eat out so much", "skip the latte" kind of advice) but really, I find that's not really doing it for us.  I've been reading "your money or your life", now and I'm trying to think of gazingus pins (their term for something you can't pass by without picking one up, whether it's a collectible item or magazines or even the newest tech gadget or what-have-you) and while magazines are occasionally, I pick up less than one a month (used to be 4 or 5 a few years ago, but I got sick of having them sitting around without reading them or whatever).  Now I'm trying to think of what else I maybe have as a gazingus pin and can't come up with anything besides the occasional seed packet... again I spend maybe $20/yr on that. 


Anyway, I was hoping someone would wanna talk with me about it or talk about their own gazingus pins or other ideas for saving that aren't generally on the "101 ways to save money" type website lol.gif  We make enough money that we should *not* be living month to month without having substantial savings, so it's irritating me that I can't manage it.  LOL

post #2 of 12

While I'm a big fan of money-saving tips, I think they can only take you so far.  It's like how you can always put on more layers of clothing in the winter, but you can only take off so much clothing in the summer...there's no end to the things you could spend money on, but there are only so many places where you can cut spending to the bone.


I have found it helpful to keep a log of every single penny I spend.  I rarely go back and look at it, but just the act of writing things down is helpful to keep me mindful of my spending.  At times I have also tracked every penny coming in, along with freebies/bargains that come into my life.


We are now at the stage where we are aggressively investing in starting small home-based businesses for ourselves--to boost the income side of the equation.  And we are continuing to invest in learning new skills, so we can do more things ourselves outside of the money economy.


I like how Your Money or Your Life is goal-oriented.  I think saving is much easier if it is for a specific purpose.  Then you can ask yourself which you want more:  Gazingus Pin A or Long-Term Goal B.  And if you choose A, at least it was a conscious decision. 


This reminds me of the book Refuse to Choose, by Barbara Sher.  It is actually about managing time and projects and lifestyle (for people who have more interests than time to pursue them all), but a lot of what she says in it could apply to money as well.  She says that it is ok to put a project (goal) on hold indefinitely or drop it entirely, if you lose interest in it, because maybe there is something better to do with your time (money) than painfully slog through something to the end.  Some days, I need a chocolate gazingus pin more than I need to save for a down payment on a home.  Obviously, keeping your finances in order is a more serious matter than choosing which hobby to pursue next, so don't take that too far....


She also discusses different lifestyles for freeing up time to pursue interests, like working at an easy day job to pay the bills, or only working six months out of the year.  In my case, we've expanded our financial options by living in a relatively crummy apartment for now (with the side effect that we feel rich when we compare ourselves to most of our neighbors).  Later on, we will probably be moving to an area with a lower cost of living.  It's a matter of choosing what is most important to you, in both the short term and the long term. 


Finally, our society puts a lot of social (and regulatory and legal) pressure on us to live a certain way, and to meet standards of living that aren't necessarily important to us personally.  There are also a lot of financial parasites in the system, sucking away our money in one way or another.  We live in one of the richest countries in the world, yet so many of us feel poor and financially insecure.

post #3 of 12

If you're not sure where it's going, it's time to do a budget and track your spending in detail. (Yay).


I like www.mint.com because it takes the vast majority of the work out of tracking it. I've resolved to track our spending down to the penny many times over the past 10 years, and it never lasts too long because inevitably I'll forget a transaction, or DH won't tell me about something he bought, or he'll tell me but have lost the receipt and can't tell me how much it was, and it all just goes to hell. But with mint, I don't have to do a thing except log in every now and then and look at my transactions. Oh, you'll probably have to tweak a few things - people complain but I think the system is brilliant how it guesses what your purchase was, but it's naturally not going to be perfect. So a restaurant bill might be categorized under Shopping, but by and large it's really accurate, and you can teach it to handle your recurring stuff correctly.


Do that for a month and you'll know exactly where the problem is. I love pinching pennies too, but it's not a replacement for a good budget and tracking system. You pinch pennies AFTER you figure out where they are going.

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

ok, yeah... we have a budget... we do an envelope system (but, uh, electronically).  Maybe this past year has just been a rough year... we've had to replace all our appliances (except one which we were able to repair) including our furnace.  So, I guess I know where a lot of it went... stupid appliances that are more necessity than what I'd like to be doing with "disposable" income... and my Dh has had some medical bills that we've been paying as they come (we have high-deductible insurance, so we have to cover a lot before it kicks in).  Bleh.  It just seems like we should be able to do ... more than we do with how much he makes.


My plan (a la ymoyl) is to instead of tracking every penny (which we do, but not in the way they suggest) is to go through our receipts for the past month - which should be the same thing since we keep all receipts and rarely use cash (cash back credit card - we're good at keeping it in check, no debt carried over)... and then organize it into categories where we're spending on stupid things that aren't necessary.  We've been breaking even instead of saving, though... which is what's annoying (but, at least we're not sinking... so it's not an emergency, just mostly an annoyance).


The only problem is I need time with no kids running around so I can at least hear myself think when I do this!  lol.gif

post #5 of 12

FWIW, I'm in somewhat of the same boat as you.  We have already cut almost all the extras from our budget that "typical" Americans have.  We don't have cable, we have the cheapest high-speed internet available, bare-bones land line (though we both have cell phones as they are necessary for our jobs), car paid off, etc.  One of our biggest "downfalls" is food.  I buy local, organic, grass-fed, raw milk.  It's expensive.  I also buy almost all our meat and produce at our farmer's market.  We spend almost as much on food per month as our mortgage payment, and it's only us and an 18 month old.  But I consider our additive-free food an investment inour health, and I'm not willing to compromise.


DH and I are also working on finishing our renovations in order to sell our house.  All of our projects are either nickle-and-diming us, or when we get a reasonable amount saved, we spend it all (minus at least $1000 for an EF) on a bigger house project.  In spite of our home rapidly improving, I feel like we are getting nowhere financially.  Thankfully we only have one room left, so we should be able to start saving money instead of "investing" it in our house.

post #6 of 12

Sometimes it isn't our gazingus pins, but just our general standard of living.  In some areas of the country, the cost of living is very high.   Here in norther NJ, you can't buy even a tiny, two bedroom house for under $240000 (and that price is really pushing it, probably closer to 250 for something decent).  And taxes on such could run over $6000 a year.  So housing is a killer in this area.  And everyone commutes so transportation costs are very high. For some people, though, such an expensive lifestyle is a "gazingus pin".  I would get out but my kids dad lives here so I feel kind of stuck for the next 10 years.  But sometimes there are options.  Car payments can be another really big budget buster.  Don't forget to look at the whole picture and not just what you are spending on wants. 

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
True. Being in ny, taxes are high... but upstate, here, houses are cheap, at least. I think our taxes are around $4500? But we have a 15 yr mortgage that started out for $112k, I think... we're half way through. Part of why we're trying to "find" money is to pay off our mortgage faster. We do also have a car payment that we're hoping to do the same with (before the mortgage, of course)...
post #8 of 12
This was an interesting thread to read. And as a side note, I knew taxes were high in NJ but I didn't know they were so high in NY. My 2000sf home in Delaware is only $1000 a year for taxes. I guess we are lucky but this will be a huge adjustment to make when we move out of state soon. Taxes are something I don't think about much, because they don't really affect me, Delaware is one of the most affordable states to live in tax-wise, there isn't even sales tax. Wow, now I am scared to leave!
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

Yeah, NY has pretty high taxes.  My county has about 8% sales tax, too...


post #10 of 12
Originally Posted by GirlBoyGirl View Post

This was an interesting thread to read. And as a side note, I knew taxes were high in NJ but I didn't know they were so high in NY. My 2000sf home in Delaware is only $1000 a year for taxes. I guess we are lucky but this will be a huge adjustment to make when we move out of state soon. Taxes are something I don't think about much, because they don't really affect me, Delaware is one of the most affordable states to live in tax-wise, there isn't even sales tax. Wow, now I am scared to leave!

Yes, taxes are cheap here..but sometimes I feel like I am trading cheap taxes for chemical companies doing dirtiness all around me. Kwim? I know..this is a "budget" thread..I couldn't help pointing this out. I do supposed that nj is pretty close to de so maybe there is some of the same going on there even with the gigantic tax bill..I didn't say I made sense..just they way I feel sometimes when I'm looking at bills in relation to one another...lol

I have plenty of pins...some of which I have let go..some which still are around. A chai latte in the morning before work at the coffee shop is awesome. I've tried to replicate but, I just doesnt compare. Lol
post #11 of 12

Housing can be a gazingus pin in and of itself and it is often people's biggest expense.


I read this blog extreme early retirement (that might not be exactly the correct name) and the blogger/author and his wife live full time in an RV because in their location they can do this cheaper than living in any traditional housing.


For a long time I thought I had to have a certain sort of house. Our circumstances changed and the house we lived in was too far from our employment to have any sort of family life during the week.  We functionally traded way more family time for a smaller, less updated/modern house.  I found that no one has really missed the "old house" except for some of the neighborhood friendships.


I am not advocating any particular behavior for the OP or anyone else, but I do think it does merit examination instead of just marking down your curent housing situation as $X per month.  Housing doesn't have to be as fixed as we often assume it is. 

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

That's an excellent point!  We've been going back and forth on whether to downsize.  We only have about $70k left on this mortgage, but if we moved, we could have, maybe, a $20k or 30k mortgage (or less, depending on how much equity we get out of our house)... We've actually looked at a couple houses considering this but we're sort of stumped as to whether it'd be better to move and spend all the money associated with moving and selling our current house...

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