Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Green Chic

One of the biggest problems I seem to encounter in my joint quests of being thinner, richer, and greener is that things that support one of those areas directly contradict another. Some examples...

* Eating green and organic might make me skinny but it is ridiculously expensive.

* A LOT of green things are more expensive, i.e. cleaning products, clothes, sheets, etc

* Something I aspire towards (writing a book) could make me richer, but printing books certainly isn't green...

Those are just a few examples. I can only thing of a few of my changed practices that are conducive to all three of goal areas--one of which is running. Its free, it's green (no travelling to a gym or purchasing something like an elliptical machine), and it definitely made me skinnier.

Anyhow, I'm reading a great book right now called "Green Chic--Saving the Earth In Style" by Christie Matheson. I received this book as a Christmas gift from my wonderful friend Tara, along with a year's subscription to "Green Guide." Anyhow I am truly enjoying this book for several reasons.

1. I appreciate well written and humorous prose. Let's face it, there are lots of topics (i.e. being green, personal finance) that can be pretty boring to read about if just the facts are listed. This book is funny, engaging, and I'd even go so far as to call it a page-turner.

2. For each green tip it explains WHY you should do what the author suggests, and HOW to do it. I particularly like the HOW: its great to say "Well, I'd really like to purchase some organic sheets next time" and quite another to actually find them in your local WalMart.

3. My favorite thing, however, is that the book is intended for REAL people, i.e. ME. People who care about the environment, who want to make changes in their lifestyle, but who don't want to live in a mud hut and give up certain pleasures of life (such as blow dryers.) One of the biggest annoyances I find in reading green blogs and green literature is that there seems to be a certain snootiness amongst super-green people towards people like me. Sort of a haughty "Oh you think you're saving the earth because you have 4 canvas bags and you hang 1 load of laundry a week? You naive simpleton!"

Green Chic addresses that every little bit counts, and we can all find ways to change things in our life that will positively affect the environment. She doesn't gloss over the fact that yes, the earth is in bad shape and WE are the reason, but she also doesn't preach or use scare tactics. She simply advises many ways to green-ify your life while still remaining chic. Although I'd be hard-pressed to refer to myself as "chic", I have a feeling this will be a book I will keep coming back to in the weeks and months and years to come.

Thanks Tara!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

He Will Teach You To Be Rich

Like everyone, G2 and I are feeling the strains of a shitty economy. We recently decided several things...

* It would be beneficial for me to get some type of paying job. Multiple ideas were thrown out, but complications stem from several factors.
  • Neither of us wants to put G3 in daycare. Besides that, going back to my job as a vet tech would basically clear me about $10 a week after daycare and gas. So not worth it.
  • Gabe's job is not time-specific. Meaning, he does not punch out at 5pm on the dot every day. And he is "on call" every other weekend and 2 weeks a night. So me getting an evening/weekend job is also pretty limited.
  • Something that I could do from home would be ideal, such as babysitting another kid or a legitimate type of work from home job. Legitamate being the key word. Scams are rampant.

* In lieu of getting a "real" job (or until I find one) I need to be more aggressive with eBay and my writing. I have made a small amount of money writing for Helium (about $116 total) but by making myself write at least 1 (or more) articles a day I can certainly up my chances. G2 also suggested entering more contests and submitting to more magazines.

* We also made a list of ways to cut back on the amount of money we spend each week. Since we've made a lot of snippets over the last year, there isn't a whole lot of room, but there's some. We're not quite at the point of completely lowering our standard of living, but yet there are a lot of things we could do to save a buck (or 20, or more). Our main area is food. We spend a ridiculous amount of money on food, even with me CVSing and couponing and all that. We buy expensive, top of the line ingredients. We almost always buy fresh vs frozen. We throw a lot of leftovers away. And, twice to three times a week we buy food from a restaurant. Tuesday nights are "take out night", Thursday night is "G2's Night Out" and its pretty likely that at some point over any given weekend we will eat a meal out. I also do something social involving eating out about 1-2 times a month as well.

So, we've come up with our list, and while G2 is not willing to give up his weekly night out (as well as me not wanting to give out my random Girls' Night Out) we have agreed that take-out can be more sporadic and that we need to STICK to the grocery list, buy generic where it really doesn't matter (such as our toddler son's snacks...I know, we're terrible. Gourmet cheese for us, store-brand crackers for G3.) There are also a few other household things on the list (but we do pretty well in that dept.) as well as changing our cell and satellite packages to cheaper ones.

ANYHOW, the point of this post (you knew I'd get here eventually) is that when I sat down to make our list, I first googled "ways to save money". And I came across a GREAT blog, that I have read almost all of in my spare time over the last few days, and plan to add to the list of blogs I read regularly. Check out Its written by a 20-something Indian guy and is geared towards younger, college educated people, but its full of great advice, challenges and ways to--you got it--become rich. The really generalized theme is that instead of focusing on the economy and the world at large, focus on how much money YOU can save.

My husband has a ton of personal finance books, most of which can put me to sleep simply by looking at the cover. This blog is actually entertaining and a "good read" well as full of important and smart advice. I highly advise everyone to check it out!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Update (and CVS)

I've been really terrible about blogging here lately...I guess I just feel like I haven't had much to talk about in the whole thinner-greener-richer spectrum of's the holidays, a notable time of excess in all of those areas.

But I did go to CVS today, because after not doing it for oh, about a month or so, I noticed that it had for sure been making an impact on our grocery bill. Stocking up on things like diapers, cat food, and toothpaste while they're cheaper/on sale was definitely helping us not spend nearly as much at the grocery store. As we head into a recession I'm realizing that playing the CVS game, bargain shopping, and coupon clipping are not just lovely little ways for this housewife to pass her time. (You know, 'cause I have so much of it...) In reality now is the time to be thrifty, snatch up good deals, and cut out unneccesary spending.

Anyhow, at CVS this week they had a few good deals. Here are the two that I got:

* Huggies Jumbo Packs of diapers were on sale for $10 a piece. THEN if you spent $25 on Huggies products, you received $5 ECBs. So (essentially) 90 diapers (3 packs) for $25. Not bad.

* Duracell Batteries were on sale for a large pack for $15-something...and then you got $5 ECBS if you spent over $15 on Duracell. So, something like 24 batteries (which go like hotcakes in this house) for $10.

So now I have $10 ECB to get me back in "the game." Go me.