Thursday, February 26, 2009

Stimulating Expenditures

Well, I'm feeling like a million bucks today - I got a fantastic haircut. I mean, it looks fantastic now; Lord knows what it will look like once I wash it and try to style it myself. And what's more, even though it cost me 50 dollars (with tip), I no longer feel guilty about spending that sort of money. You see, Larry and I aren't interested in waiting for that big, bad federal government to bail our country out of this financial mess. Because Americans can do anything, we've embarked on a massive personal spending plan that is guaranteed to pull America up by her bootstraps. Check this out for stimulus spending:

  1. $50 every 2 or 3 months - Because I am never again waiting almost a year between haircuts (even if they do trigger my lice-induced PTSD). Once a woman hits 45, those maintenance costs just start going up, up, up...
  2. $1000 - It turns out that when you teach your teen to drive, his jackrabbit starts and stops inflict a bit of wear and tear on the brakes and rotors. Or that's the story the mechanic gave me, anyway...
  3. $5000 - I was surprised to learn yesterday that furnaces have a life expectancy of only 15 years ("...unless you want to run the risk of carbon monoxide seeping into your home, ma'am...") - guess how old our furnace is?
  4. ?????? - We'll know in another month if our oldest is heading off to college somewhere this fall. The incidental expenses that people are alerting us to (cellphone, laptop, dining plans, extra health insurance, transportation) are making our formerly frugal heads spin. Have I mentioned that when my father sent me off to college (back in what my Anna refers to as the Dark Ages), he presented me with the fine gift of an electric typewriter? He did! (And I was the envy of my dorm, dammit.) No sound system (although I did manage to buy my own Sony Walkman in 1984), no car, no cutesy dorm furniture; I think I had a footlocker my roommates and I used as a coffee table. And we were happy.

Yes, if the economic forecast is looking a little rosier in the month or two to come, you'll know whom to credit with the improvement. You're very welcome. It's the least we can do for our country.

P.S. For you young 'uns scratching your heads over the words "Sony Walkman," it was the Flintstones version of an IPod. It played "cassette tapes," and there were versions (more expensive than mine) that even had "auto-reverse." When it first came out, columnists and other pundits bemoaned the sight of youngsters walking along the street listening to music rather than engaging in conversation with those around them. Because, back then, it wasn't normal to see people walking around with things in their ears. Really.


  1. Isn't it amazing what a great haircut can do? I got one last week that made my day!

    And we are also doing our part to stimulate the economy - we put brakes and rotors on my hubs car a couple weeks ago.

  2. oh my, we're living parallel lives. I just got my hair cut last Friday night after going over year so I could save money. (It was $48 without tip.) And the furnace had to be repaired last week. (Ours is 20 years, so we're getting ready to bite the bullet in the next couple weeks.) My daughter is begging to get her learners permit since she just turned 15 last week. (Do you have any advice?)

  3. Remember actually having to get up to change the channel.
    Having to reach over and pull up the button to unlock the car door.
    We will also be stimulating the economy with an expensive performance trombone,computer, and all the college expenses. I am skipping the food plans and just sending a case of Dr. Pepper and a crate of poptarts every week. That's all he eats here so we want him to feel at home.

  4. I had a Walkman just like that. I think I completely wore out my Air Supply cassette tape on that thing.
    I still need to wait another 4 months to get my haircut, just to make it an even year.
    I'm not even going to tell you how much our son's dental surgery will stimulate the economy. I'm sure the new big screen TV that the oral surgeon will be able to buy with his fee will do a great deal to help out the country's financial problems.

  5. See, that's one of the benefits to Anne going to the community college for the first 2 years. She will live at home, continue to help watch her siblings, drive my car, eat my food, ... Wait, is that good or bad?

  6. Do you mean to tell me that I can fix the economy by paying someone to cut my hair?
    You've just inspired a blog post!!

    I feel your pain with the furnace -- we replaced ours 18 months ago. The good news is, they haven't gone up in price!

  7. It has been a long time since I got a great haircut. Oh, that was before our kids came.

  8. Thanks for doing your part! I hear the Battle Hymn of the Republic song in the background.


  9. Post a pic of your new haircut! Oh right, maybe from the back?

    Thank you for doing your part to jumpstart the economy.

  10. A Walkman???
    Back in my day ... we had transister radios. The smallest were about the size of a walkman but it only had one ear-plug. No stereo back then. Oh ... and am dial only. Good Times!

  11. When I was young I had a "boom box" with the cassette player on top. When I was ready to go the cassette player (hold on to your seats) disconnected and became a walkman! Life was good.

    This week I bought a new portable stereo and was shocked that it had a cassette player. Can you still by cassetes?

  12. a walkman! way to go!!!

    i can see that college will be a huge expenditure for you but it seems like you raised theo so that he knows the value of money. maybe he can find a job on campus! also, RA's (resident assistants) can live for free usually. if he gets really involved, there's a chance he could be an RA in his second or third year, thus saving you money!!


  13. For us we needed to add @$1,000 to our highest estimate when sent our daughter off to college last fall. Scary because I didn't think we had been that extravagant. Perhaps it was the one text book that cost several hundred dollars. As much as my entire tuition for one semester of college back in the "dark ages." I didn't even have an electric typewriter, just a hot pot and a mini tape recorder!
    Normally I'm just a lurker, but I love your blog.
    Oh yes...the haircut...have to indulge ourselves...well in non tuition paying months at least.
    The teen daughter thing gets a bit better when they leave home and realize how much we really do for them!

  14. Oh snap - we're haircut twins! I just got my first one since last April, so I jumped the gun a little bit. $41 without tip. Of course, the one last April was at the "Cut-n-Cry" - we cut now, you weep later.

    As for laptops, I strongly suggest you look on Ebay for the Dell Refurb store. I've had a huge number of work laptops over the years, and the Dells really take a beating. The refurbs are *great* value.

    Now, if I can just avoid our furnaces seeing anything about their age please, given that two of them were installed in 1996...

  15. Practically Joe - I still remember when my older brother got a transistor radio - we thought it was the coolest thing in the world! When he let me, I'd walk around with it next to my ear, pretending to be Betty or Veronica from the Archie comics.

  16. Well, I would never spend $50 on a haircut (which both DS and I have to do this week for a wedding next weekend), although with needing haircuts every 4 weeks even the $13 I spend on each cut adds up over the course of a year. Don't be surprised, though, that nothing happens with the economy. Back in December, DH and I bought and paid cash for (no financing) a brand new $29,000 Toyota truck, and Toyota posted their first ever loss. Then in January we traded in our old pop-up camper, and paid cash for a new pull behind travel trailer. After our huge monetary outlay the economy is in worse shape now than it was even then. (I talked about these purchases in my own blog). Hey, we tried our best. It's time for everyone else to step up to the plate.

    I got an electric typewriter for my high school graduation gift! And...(drum roll, please) I still own a walkman, and it does have auto-reverse. I don't have any tapes to play in it, but it has a Marconi...I mean, radio. I even have a disc-man. I have no clue how to us an MP3 player, but it doesn't matter since I don't buy music anymore, anyway.

  17. Hmmm...maybe you should go for the more expensive haircuts? America needs you!

  18. On behalf of the United States, I'd like to thank you. From India. A village in India.


  19. Here is your script for the trip to the dorm:

    Kid: But Mom, everybody else in college has a [FILL IN THE BLANK].

    You: Good. Then you can . . .


    1. Get a ride from anybody.
    2. Borrow anybody's [FILL IN THE BLANK].
    3. Watch anybody's [FILL IN THE BLANK].
    4. Listen to anybody's [FILL IN THE BLANK]
    5. Have anybody's parents pay your tuition too.

  20. Yay! The great haircut! Does it come with a daily stylist?

  21. Because Americans can do anything

    Oh, I love how you sneaked that in there...with a Louisiana accent, too, I bet. :)

  22. Ah, dorm life looks NOTHING like it did back in my day, either. I had a walkman. Our b/w tv had no remote and a 12 inch screen. Those were the days.

  23. I would never post this on my blog because I wouldn't want to give my husband a heart attack, but my every 7 weeks color and cut is $140 with tip. BUT now I feel okay about it because my husband does the brakes and rotors himself!

    You did get your FAFSA done, right? The deadline is March 2nd.

  24. Oh, nostalgia - college, typewriters, the Walkman! (I still call my iPod a Walkman.) I can't believe you have a college-bound kid already! That's nuts!

  25. I am long overdue for a haircut, and so is my daughter. It's been since October and our hair is getting too tangly. Plus my roots are glaringly obvious now, and I can't do anything with them for several more weeks till the next trimester. Give me some time, and I'll be doing my share to help the economy. I promise.

  26. By the way, I told my kids that if they want to drive, they must get a job to pay for the skyrocket increase in the insurance that comes along with adding them to the policy. No job, no insurance, no driving.

  27. I don't know what kind of furnace you have, but it may not be absolutely necessary to replace it. We had a carbon monoxide scare a month or two ago here. The burners on our natural gas furnace got dirty, and we had incomplete combustion, which meant carbon monoxide and that smelly gas they put in natural gas started leaking out. We nearly peed our pants at the thought of replacing the furnace, but the furnace guy assured us the furnace would be good for a while as long as it got cleaned out. So he cleaned it for us. $150 for that sucks, but it's better that $1500. You may wish to look into it.

  28. I mean, $5000, not $1500.

  29. I cut my own hair and well, it could look better.

    My parents sent me away to college with a little cash. And I was going to France!

  30. I think my kids (the oldest of which is just barely a teenager) are tired of hearing me chant "Student Loans...Student Loans" everytime we bring up college. Not that I want them in debt up to their ipod stuffed ears...just want them to be practically prepared :)

  31. Ha ! Just asked my kids if they knew what a walkman was? They had no idea..never heard of a disc man either! Remember those? Sad but true...they have never seen a record player or a phone with a dial!!

  32. Oh yes. I'm fearing the increase in the cost of college textbooks since 1992.

  33. Oh my gosh. My high school graduation present was also an electric typewriter. No kidding. And my dorm room had a mini-fridge, two beds, two desks, and a small radio. No TV, which after one semester totally blew, and I asked my parents for a TV for Christmas. I got a 13" BLACK & WHITE tv for my dorm room. And that was the shiz.

  34. For controlling those ugly textbook costs, Amazon is Theo's friend. He'll have to be careful about getting the right edition, but unless the book is newly released, used books can be had for a great discount. (It helps to choose courses, register and get a copy of the syllabus as early as humanly possible. Also- check out the new prices while sitting down. It means when the nausea and dizziness hit, you don't have as far to fall.) And classic books for literature classes can often be found in used bookstores or online. My sister (an English major) saved hundreds every semester over what she'd have spent in the college bookstore.

    And I'd get a carbon monoxide detector and add the $5K to your emergency fund...however, in the interests of full disclosure, I should note that this is the attitude that led me to replacing my 23-year-old furnace in the middle of February when it was -10F while also replacing a lot of broken pipes after they froze...I had to keep the woodstove going 4 days, and discovered it takes 23 kettles of boiling water from the stove to take even a shallow bath (the furnace also being the appliance that supplies the hot water)...yeah. There are risks.

  35. Not having a carbon monoxide detector put our family in the hospital and lucky to be alive 23 years ago. I remember how long ago it was because I was pregnant. (The kid's fine.)

    We remodeled and put in a new furnace (the contractor put in the cheapest model, bad idea) and it totally died at two years. I asked wasn't there some kind of warranty? The new guy (I wasn't having the first one back) laughed that well, he wouldn't charge me extra for hauling it away, as long as he had that crane in front of my house anyway to put in the new. Joy. So if you got 15 years so far, I'm officially mildly jealous.

    But CO detectors are always a good idea.

  36. I did a post the other day on Tap recorders, and was a bit worried that I might need to put up a picture or an explaination. Silly kids these days.



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