Worms and dirt are antithetical to tea, worm compost tea especially for many people. But for someone like me, who squealed with joy when my first order of worms arrived, it has been quite an exciting adventure. Everything about embarking on having an indoor farm has been thrilling and educational.
It all started when I decided to grow an indoor farm. I initially called it tabletop farming since I actually began my adventure on a regular round dining table. The reason I decided to become an indoor farmer were circumstantial.
1. I had no place to grow food outside.
2. I needed to have access to local, organic produce for both health and frugality.
Seed Mama Indoor Farming
So I began what became known as, Seed Mama Indoor Farming. The first few months were devoted completely to growing my crops of microgreens in soil. Black gold, or worm castings are the best fertilizer known to man. When they are used directly or made into worm compost tea, the provide super nutrients to anything that grows.
Soil Is Not A Dirty Word
For a time I switched my growing method to soil-less or hydroponic growing. I didn’t focus as much on fertilizer for that process. But I missed putting my hands in the dirt. So I resumed my original passion. That really made it necessary and desirable for me to learn more about composting. Most important was for me to learn now to make worm compost tea.
Making Worm Compost Tea
Compost tea is not just the liquid run off from worm castings. It has to be ‘brewed’ according to the many recipes I found. So I am just starting to learn this black gold alchemy. I will keep you posted on my progress and let my readers see how magical this potion is meant to be. For now here is a list of posts about making worm compost tea.
Being seniors enhances our opportunities for savvy shopping savings. As a senior, if you like travelling locally by car to go shopping, these suggestions should be appealing. The following examples are where we shop. But these days, I suspect that many suburban areas would have these or similar ways to take advantage of saving shopping savings.
Compare is another terrific supermarket that has a lot of Latino foods to cater to the demographics of the immediate neighborhood. The prices are good and I love the variety of foods. Seniors get 10% off today.
Target offers 5% off everyday with their credit or debit card. Since we are in the neighborhood on Thursdays, this is the day to go here. Staples is also right nearby so this is a good day to go here too. We get 5% off with their credit card everyday.
There are many other local savvy shopping savings opportunities everyday. Besides Target, here are a few of them:
• CVS offers 30 to 40% off on a regular basis. This is one of the few stores that I pay attention to coupons. It really pays off. They email me and send me postcards to notify me of sales. It makes it very easy to shop and save here.
• Staples offers us 5% off with every purchase made with our Staples credit card.
• Wild by Nature offers 10% off to seniors. If I shop here often enough, I get another quarterly coupon.
• Michaels Stores, Art Supplies, Crafts and Framing has coupons every week. We actually get notification of them by email. Even though this store is not on our regular shopping route, my husband likes to take a short trip to Michaels for his week art supply needs.
We will either include these everyday savings stores into our shopping routine near their location(s) or make a fun trip on another day or the weekend. In the case of CVS, there are five stores in the areas where we do our other shopping. Therefore, we have the luxury of going to any one of them no matter where else we need to shop.
CONCLUSION: CONVENIENCE BUT CONFLICT AS WELL
I like to shop local and am a supporter of small local shops. But our financial circumstances require that we save money and shop frugally. It is very difficult to find a balance between the two systems, supporting small local businesses and shopping where we can get savvy shopping savings.
With the exception of Long Island Cares, Inc. which is a food bank that supports us, it seems that our finances dictate our choices. But they do not dictate our values. In addition, the direction that business has gone in makes it difficult to shop primarily at small local stores. So it would seem that practicing savvy shopper savings is in direct conflict with shopping small local stores. Or is it? Has anyone found their situation to be otherwise? Here’s what’s been in the media about this issue.
Containers for growing and display microgreens are limited only by one’s imagination. This post will focus primarily on two types, teacup microgreens and decorative containers microgreens.
Teacup microgreen containers remind me of teacup breeds of dogs. They are tiny and adorable. They are a great way to display and introduce microgreens as gifts.
DECORATIVE CONTAINERS MICROGREENS
Microgreens in a decorative container make a really nice gift and are very decorative just to grow at home. The below photos are from Maggie’s Microgreens, a company that offers this kind of product with all the items you need.
You can get a fair idea of how to grow microgreens from this kit. It has everything you need to start small. If you appetite for them grows, and it will, then you will want to move on to something much bigger. In the meantime, this is a good place to start.
I love the flower pot that Maggie’s Microgreens supplies. When you go on her Etsy.com site, you will find other decorative containers in addition to the adorable purple flower pot.
Once all the steps are completed, you have an adorable, edible mini garden. After you have eaten them or given them as a gift, you will want to move on to move flavors of and bigger containers for your own use. In addition, this type of item is a great gift to introduce this teacup sized portion of microgreen to others.
LEARNING MORE ABOUT MICROGREENS
Because these edible superfoods are so easy to grow and healthy to eat, I want to guide you to additional information. Because microgreens have become so popular, there is an abundance of information online. As a result, I want to mention a few sources that have been especially helpful to me. Most noteworthy is The Micro Gardener.
Probably the most educational route I have found is joining groups that share my interest. Especially relevant is Sprouts and Microgreens!
Consequently, there are many paths to the same goal, growing microgreens. From creating a teacup microgreen splash to start to digging into large trays as a daily consumer, it is almost a certainty that this is only this information is only the beginning. Therefore, learn as much as you can. Experiment as much as possible by getting your hands in the soil. In conclusion, have fun because this is a great hobby, healthy food and most of all, you never know where you can go with it.
Green heroes loom large in the world of animation. First of all, middle aged people will remember The Incredible Hulk® as one of the more popular ones. Furthermore, younger folks will easily relate to the loveable, animated Shrek® as one of today’s best known characters. Consequently, both are beloved, admired and influential green heroes.
Less well known are the real world influential green heroes. Most noteworthy are people who have started sustainable projects and created productive, profitable businesses. Some are green in familiar ways. Others follow my broader definition developed in the upcoming ebook, Mastering the Art of Green. Hence including:
• a focus for individual survival and profitabiity
• an inventive and untraditional successful enterprise
• something for community well being
• solutions to world hunger and poverty
As a result, with growing green consciousness, poverty and scarcity will decrease. This will be due to the tangible results from green thinking and green resources. Most of all, the global crisis of hunger can be impacted in a positive way. Here lies the area of my greatest concern.
Consequently, we want to pay close attention to such green thinking and the results of these green heroes. Ideas and people like them will mold our future and probably change our world for the better. Towards this end, I have included several green heroes from a variety of venues in this post. In addition, it is my hope that their projects, the snapshots of their work and the details about them in the Sources & Resources section at the end of the post will serve to inspire all of us.
FROM CLEARANCE TO CASH: RYAN GRANT
FARMERS CUT PILOT PROGRAM: MARK KORZILIUS
“You can probably guess by now, that we’re not an ordinary farm. Originally a farm was a place where people celebrated nature, enjoyed pure, good food. All around the world harvesting was a special occasion where people came together as a community to enjoy their gratitude for good food.
“Now, imagine a world of not just one harvest cycle, but many. We are talking of up to 20. Imagine the many pleasant occasions we can come together and enjoy pure good food! Together, we will bring back the joy of food and our farm will be home to that feeling and a place for you – the avid food lover.” Mark Korzilius, Farmers Cut
GOTHAM GREENS: URBAN ROOFTOP GREENHOUSES
Viraj Puri, Co-Founder and CEO
Eric Haley, Co-Founder and CFO
Jennifer Nelkin Frymark, Chief Agriculture Officer
“‘Gotham Greens’ pesticide-free produce is grown using ecologically sustainable methods in technologically-sophisticated, 100% clean energy powered, climate-controlled urban rooftop greenhouses. Gotham Greens provides its diverse retail, restaurant, and institutional customers with reliable, year-round, local supply of produce grown under the highest standards of food safety and environmental sustainability. The company has built and operates over 170,000 square feet of technologically advanced, urban rooftop greenhouses across 4 facilities in New York City and Chicago. Gotham Greens was founded in 2009 in Brooklyn, New York and is privately held.” Gotham Greens
GROWING CITIES MOVIE: URBAN FARMING IN AMERICA
A documentary that examines the role of urban farming in America and asks how much power it has to revitalize our cities and change the way we eat. This film is based on a 13,000 mile trip around the United States researching answers to this question.
“In their search for answers, filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette take a road trip and meet the men and women who are challenging the way this country grows and distributes its food, one vacant city lot, rooftop garden, and backyard chicken coop at a time. Join them as they discover that good food isn’t the only crop these urban visionaries are harvesting. They’re producing stronger and more vibrant communities, too.” From their website
JIM WANG: WALLET HACKS
First of all, Wallet Hacks is an internet encyclopedia of financially green ideas. Jim Wang writes about untraditional tools to save money, from everyday items to phenomenal travel tips.
He is constantly amazing me with his suggestions and data. As a result, I cannot applaud him enough as a green hero whose research is invaluable and needs to be studied. Almost any area of life that you want to save money on can be found in his writings.
KATHY TERRILL: I LOVE SELLING ON EBAY
A master ebay seller, Kathy Terrill presents all kinds of useful and fascinating information about selling on ebay. The inspiration for this video was a presentation for members of Sarah Mueller’s Declutter My Home, Facebook group.
PASCAL BAUDAR: URBAN OUTDOOR SKILLS
This man is a wild foods artisan. I am in awe of the delicacies he makes from foraged as well as commercial ingredients.
TABLE TOP FARMING: INDOOR FARM TO TABLE FOOD
“Wish you had the space to grow your own food? Wish you could be in your garden even in winter? Table top farming is your solution for both. You can grow healthy greens, herbs, sprouts, vegetables and even fruit indoors, all year round.
“As a result of using growing techniques like microgreens, hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics, you can do your own ‘table top farming’ indoor and out. This page shares my experience doing ‘Table Top Farming’ for fun and a source of nutritious, fresh food.” From the Facebook page
What differentiates survivalism from frugality? What distinguishes frugality from frivolity? When is it appropriate or necessary to practice which? Is my lifestyle necessarily by choice, survivalism, frugality or frivolity? These questions stuck in my mind after reading a comment made by a member of one of my Facebook groups.
She wrote, “This is a good idea for a group. But, to me, flying anywhere is not what a person on a budget will consider as being frugal.” This was her response to my mention, in a page post, that I had taken a trip to Colorado recently. The trip was to visit family we hadn’t seen in six years. This included three great nephews and a great niece we had never met. I did not consider this frivolous. We needed to visit our family. In fact, the way we managed our trip was by a savvy use of travel rewards credit cards.
She continued, “To me, BEING FRUGAL means saving your money for unforeseen emergency circumstances. To me, it means getting the most from every dollar you spend and not wasting even one penny. To me, SURVIVALISM means not spending money needlessly for things you can live without so you will have money when you really need it.
She concluded, “So, for me, it would be good if you taught me how to SAVE MY MONEY and how to stop spending it on every little thing that catches my eye which ultimately becomes clutter which ultimately hampers my enjoyment of life. You know … kinda, sorta like … learning how to minimize my carbon footprint, as they say, so I can enjoy the pleasures of not being tied down to so much stuff. What do you think?”
A state of survivalism can result from a crisis, disaster or state of emergency. In other words, survivalism is a situation where one has to learn to make due in an unfriendly environment including minimized access to the modern conveniences.
Perhaps, in retrospect, the name I gave my group, Senior Suburban Survivalism, favored alliteration more than an accurate definition of survivalism. In any case, a senior who lives in suburbia faces a survivalism type challenge. It has been a continual test to live frugally. We do have an occasional slip into frivolity.
“Freedman emphasizes that frugality is not punishment, but rather, a power move. Controlling your spending urges, scaling back a bit on entertainment and dining out, and other frugal strategies will ultimately help you reach your financial goals. So while the road to reaching those goals may seem long, you shouldn’t view your careful money habits as restrictive and misery-inducing, especially if they lead you to paying off your mortgage and retiring early. Because isn’t that the whole point?”
Clearly, there is a substantial difference between survivalism and frugality. Survivalism is having to make due without, not by choice. Frugality is a choice to limit or postpone immediate gratification as well as self-indulgence towards a greater, usually longer term goal.
In my view:
• the difference between frugality and frivolity is a choice. For example, I am wearing an old dress to the party rather than buying a new dress.
On the other hand:
• the difference between survivalism and frugality is not a choice. As an example, I am homeless with no roof over my head or I have a place to live with a roof over my head. To her next comment. “So, for me, it would be good if you taught me how to SAVE MY MONEY and how to stop spending it on every little thing that catches my eye which ultimately becomes clutter which ultimately hampers my enjoyment of life.”I answered, I would like to quote from Lesson 2 in Donna Freedman’s second book, “Frugality is not a punishment”. In terms of compulsive spending, it might be best to take a deep breathe then ask ourselves:
• ‘Do I need this or just want it’?
• Will this bring me immediate pleasure but then gather dust and become clutter later on?’
The answers will determine if this is frugality or frivolity.
I am not totally opposed to frivolity. in fact, I think part of the joy in life is a little treat once in awhile. But here are the parameters:
• A treat should not cause harm to the environment by increasing my carbon footprint
• Something special should not unbalance my budget
• I still need to pay my bills in full as well as on time
Therefore, I hope I have clarified my position and brought more transparency to these lifestyle differences.
I am a Savvy Savings Shopper. Why do I call myself that? It is because I have had to learn, adopt and develop as many money saving, frugal habits and techniques as possible so that I could survive.
It has taken time, energy, research as well as trial and error to learn what to do and how to do it so I could be considered a savvy savings shopper. Consequently, the things that work have helped me to go from being One Day From Homeless, to a Senior Suburban Survivalist and now to A Savvy Savings Shopper.
Therefore the purpose of this blog post, A Savvy Savings Shopper, is to review some of these techniques, tools and tips I have learned. I wish to share what has worked for me with other people who need and want to survive, too. In addition, recognition goes to others who have accomplished a similar feat and to recognize them with The Savvy Savings Shopper Award.
ASKING FOR HELP
Back in 2008 when the stock market crashed and my husband was laid off from his job, all within one week, I realized we were going to need help. It really sank in when we had to use his pension and lose my savings just to survive. We needed help. As a result, I had to swallow my pride then learn to ask for help.
We researched and applied for whatever social services we could qualify for. We sought help from our local senior center. We got food stamps which were very helpful initially. This was because the amount we got is based upon a peculiar formula reflecting past income and medical expenses. But as time went on, our income was reduced to unemployment and there was less money for medical expenses. As a result, our monthly food stamp allotment diminished substantially.
APPLYING AND QUALIFYING FOR GOVERNMENT ASSISTED LIVING
Since we had such limited income and minimal food stamps, we had to find other sources for food. There are food pantries in just about every town where we live. Most are open once a month and some are weekly. We have found the ones that work best for us. But even then, there is still a shortage of fresh produce and meat.
GOING TO FOOD PANTRIES FOR CLOTHES
Some food pantries also have clothes that have been donated. Depending upon the source and the community, the clothes can be very good quality. Since I cannot afford to even go to thrift stores any more, these ‘Lord’s Taylors’, as my husband calls them, are a tremendous help.
Some websites are specifically for coupons for food, household and all kinds of item. One of them is coupons.com.
AARP.COM is a great source for senior discounts. In addition, there are restaurants and stores that give discounts to seniors. But don’t wait for them to tell you. ASK rather than wait for them to let you know!
Some supermarkets give everyday discounts to seniors, like Wild By Nature. Others have senior discounts one day of the week, like Gala Fresh and Compare. Riteaid gives seniors a discount on the first Wednesday of the month.
SHOPPING AT DISCOUNT STORES
There are all kinds of discount stores from cheap dollar stores to high end ones. My favorite is HomeGoods. In fact, if you use their credit card for purchases, you earn points and get a $10 store coupon for each 1000 points earned.
SHOPPING WHERE I GET GREAT SAVINGS
CVS Pharmacy, their official name, carries much more than prescriptions. I buy all kinds of household items there. Because they regularly offer discount coupons, I regularly shop at their stores. In fact, they just acknowledged me as being in the top 4% of supersavers in their New York stores. This is because I regularly make purchases at deep discounts from CVS. These include:
• all my paper goods
• kitchen accessories
• dental care products
• occasional candy and dessert treats
• nasal and vision aids
• over the counter medical needs
• clothes and shoes
• hair care products
• special body soaps
• skin care products
GETTING FURNISHINGS FROM THE TRASH (STREET FINDS) AND GARAGE SALES
Unless something is made out of fabric and stuffing, like beds and chairs, I have gotten almost all our furniture from street finds or garage sales. In fact, the quality of old wooden furniture is far superior to the new cheap materials, chipboard and fast growing pine. Consequently, old furniture is in demand.
A manual that describes the process step-by-step is in progress. This makes it possible for anyone to upcycle old furniture and furnishings.
USING CREDIT CARDS RESPONSIBLY
PLEASE NOTE THE NEW SECTION DEVOTED TO CREDIT CARDS USAGE. BECAUSE OF THIS, CREDIT CARD USE SYSTEMS ARE NO LONGER PART OF SAVVY SHOPPING SAVINGS TOOLS.
Because of the potential financial dangers of using credit cards irresponsibly, I especially caution that only people with excellent credit and extreme diligence with their use of credit cards follow these ideas. I compiled two booklet from resource materials that detail the best credit cards to use for cash back and travel rewards. They are The Best Cash Back Credit Cards and The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards. Furthermore, there is a website creditcards.com that will actually calculate which are the best credit cards to use for individual needs.
PARTICIPATING IN SOCIAL MEDIA ON THIS TOPIC
Participating in Facebook groups and pages as well as websites can provide lots of new information. The groups can also function as support groups. I strongly recommend joining and participating. Some of my favorite sources are listed below.
READING AND WRITING BLOG POSTS WITH SUGGESTIONS ON THIS TOPIC
Reading and writing blog posts are two great ways of learning new tips as well as processing what one knows on this topic. Here is another blog post I wrote on this topic, Living A Consciously Frugal Life.
READ EVERYTHING I CAN ON THIS TOPIC AND WRITE AN eBOOK ABOUT IT
Especially relevant to writing on this topic to read, are other sources of material. Based upon extensive research and writing, I composed, The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook. It is designed to ‘tell our story’, going from ‘One Day from Homeless’ to where we are now. The book is filled with savvy savings shopper tips.
In conclusion, the list of resources is growing exponentially. It will continue to grow as the need and demand for savvy shavings shopping tips increases.
Credit cards can be both a blessing and a curse. The suggestions given here about them apply only to people who use the responsibly and have excellent credit scores. I have used credit cards for as far back as I can remember. I have always paid them on time. My credit score is excellent, as a result. I have written previous blog posts about credit cards. But very recently, I realized recently that there was much more to be gained from having credit cards than just having an excellent credit score. They can be an essential tool of savvy shopper savings.
When I realized their invaluable potential, I began an in-depth research project into their use. There are two types of credit cards that fit into this category, cash rewards cards and travel rewards cards. My study has included both. Many websites and blogs specialize in savvy shopper savings with the use of credit cards. Here are two PDF booklets I compiled for the abundance of information available from research on the Internet.
Savvy Shopper Savings with Credit Cards: Conclusion
The responsible use of credit cards for cash and travel rewards is just one of countless ways to live a consciously frugal life. Future blog posts will reveal more about the use of credit cards as one-time high yield instruments as part of our savvy shopper savings strategies.
People are in shock when I tell them that my husband and I had been one day from homeless. They respond, NO WAY! They can’t believe it. Friends knew us as middle class. We still look middle class. We behave middle class. There is not really anything that gives us away. Since everything fails to confirm our financial situation and living circumstances, I have no choice but to tell them our story, One Day From Homeless.
When my husband and I became a couple in 1994, everything was fine. We had a house at the beach. We each had a car. Both of us had college degrees. I had a small business. He had a job and was completing a Counseling Certificate.
We both came from good homes. I was from Long Beach, NY. He was from Manhasset, Long Island’s North Shore. We had good upbringings and were community members in good standing. There was nothing to foretell what was to come.
A MIDDLE CLASS LIFE
We lived a comfortable middle class life. Things all seemed headed in a great direction. The house we owned skyrocketed in value. We sold it at the top of the market right before housing decided to turn south and crash.
My husband was able to go back to school full time due to an injury from his job and a layoff. He studied graphic design and got a terrific job in NYC in 2000. I had my decorative painting business. It was going well. For a while, things were fine.
FINE TAKES A TURN FOR THE WORSE
But then the stock market showed signs of instability. My planner said it was just a bear market that would correct itself. My gut disagreed. But she was the professional, so I held on. At the same time, there were changes going on at my husband’s job. He had to commute one and a half hours each way to New Jersey during reconstruction of their Manhattan headquarters.
When they returned to NYC, he got a new boss. From day one, they were like ‘oil and water’. The working relationship went from bad to worse. As if it had been orchestrated by some quirk of fate, everything felt like an avalanche gathering downhill speed simultaneously.
THEN CAME 2008
My husband had just turned 62. So he could collect social security. But he preferred to keep working and wait until age 67. But he got laid off. It was bound to happen. Better than the homicide or heart attack I feared would happen from working with his boss.
My mutual funds that were supplying a small income for me were competing in a similar down hill race. And it all crashed at once. That was 2008. Job gone. Income gone. If it had not been for President Obama’s extension of unemployment insurance from 26 to 99 weeks and his decrease in COBRA insurance from $1500/month to $500/month, our demise would have come much sooner.
THE HANGOVER OF 2009
As we continued to live on dwindling savings and my husband’s pension, I felt more and more despair. I had never felt this way before. I started carrying my toothbrush and dental floss with me everywhere I went. Something didn’t feel right. At first, I started having terrible pains in the area of my gall bladder. In attempting to heal that without surgery, I started to have a severe emotional swing, a downward crash actually.
As much as I fought it, I could not stop falling. I fell into a deep, dark hole where there was nothing. There was no hope; no future and time almost came to a standstill.
I was having a nervous breakdown. With five visits to the emergency room, I ended up in the psychiatric unit of the local hospital from two of the ER visits. That is where I spent much of my summer, in and out of it the unit. Then I was in the aftercare program. I don’t know which aspect of that ordeal was the worst part. I think all of it was. The only saving grace was that I was in air conditioning all summer.
VEGETABLE OR HUMAN
My husband was terrified that the prescribed medicine overload would leave me a vegetable for life. But he stuck by me visiting me in the hospital every day, twice each day. He didn’t even tell me about the day he got hit by a car when he was riding his bike. He didn’t want to upset me. He told me about it years later. Thank God, he was OK.
Somehow, I finally got on the right medicine, from seven at one point down to a reasonable, workable two. I found a wonderful therapist and started to see a pinhole of daylight out of that black hole.
SAYING GOODBYE TO OUR MONEY
But on thing did not stop. That was the drip, drip, drip of our money going down the drain, as we had to support a Middle Class life of expenses on a Poor Middle Class income. But we did not identify what it was at the time.
My husband continued to seek work to put us back in balance. But in terror, I counted the months our funds would last. By then, we were in ‘the system’, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps. But what were we going to do about our housing situation?
We had a two-bedroom apartment and no idea what we were going to do or where we were going to go. We thought the answer was to get evicted since that would bide us time or so we thought.
Thank God, we did not go that route. It would have been a mark against us for future housing applications. Our landlord was wonderful. He patiently worked with us, accepting what we had left to give him. First it was our deposit as a month’s rent and then one of my husband’s best paintings as the final month’s rent.
By then we were down to another level in ‘the system’, the search for emergency housing. Miraculously, with the help of a friend, we found a senior housing opening. It usually takes years to get in. First you apply to a waiting list to wait on another list to apply for an apartment.
LIFE IN A STUDIO APARTMENT
But the housing that we found in record time, two weeks, was a studio apartment. That was the only drawback. The building was lovely, centrally located and most importantly, it would provide a roof over our heads in a very nice building. For a number of weeks before we found the studio apartment, we thought we could end up homeless.
Then there was a paperwork screw up with the county’s bureaucracy at the very last minute. We had gone there for our ‘one shot’, the money for our apartment deposit. We waited over 3 hours for it. But at the very last minute, it was denied to us. We had $8. too much money to our names. We were supposed to be delivering the deposit for the new apartment the next day. I totally panicked. That was the closest we have come to becoming homeless. It is something I pray that we never experience again.
MIRACLES DO HAPPEN
At the last minute, the money we needed for our deposit was made available by a charitable organization when they heard our story. After the three unnerving hours we had spent in the county’s facility, we drove another hour to the place that saved us with their donation. But I have to admit that the six months starting with the countdown of funds to almost homeless was probably the scariest time in my life. I felt so powerless.
It is hard to believe that we have been living in our building for about four years. We were even able to move into a one-bedroom apartment about a year and a half ago. It feels like a palace after two and a half years in a studio. We see the trees out our window and feel like we live in the sky.
My husband was able to go for advanced training in the counseling field. He has been interning doing that. I have been learning how to adjust to being Poor Middle Class, not as a punishment but as a badge of courage.
We believe that we have been given the experiences of the last 8 years to learn how to survive from a place of surrender, gratitude and humility. It has been and is still quite a journey. What we have learned and continue to learn is a gift.
It is a gift that has been given to us to pass on to others. Let us continue to experience this new life as a gift. Let us also continue to pass on joyfully, what we have learned and continue to learn. Let our experience help others who are now where we once were, almost homeless and part of The Former Middle Class.
How We Took A Frugal Vacation As Members of The Former Middle Class
This fact is in spite of what Erika Rawes wrote in The Cheat Sheet entitled, ’10 Things the Middle Class Can’t Afford Anymore’. At the very top of her list was the word, VACATION.
This blog post will disprove her statement. In addition to disproving her, I also pronounce that the Middle Class she referred to is disappearing and becoming The Former Middle Class. Even with that added financial burden, it is possible to take a frugal vacation.
It is different from a Middle Class or Upper Middle Class vacation. I will not dispute that. Actually, it involves actions that a middle class person would not take or need to take. Nonetheless, it is still a vacation. I have proof. That proof is what this post is all about.
I had not seen most of my family for six years. They live in Colorado. In fact, the last time I had been to Colorado was for my nieces weddings. Their four children were not yet a gleam in anyone’s eyes. We were long overdue to visit now that I had become a great-aunt. Since we had become member of The Former Middle Class, I did not know how that was going to be possible. As it was, we were barely making ends meet.
But as my husband and I told ourselves, life is short. We are both hovering about our seventh decade and live a day at a time. So one never knows how many days, weeks, months or years that might be. Time was of the essence even if the funds were not apparent. I was determined to make this the year we would return to Colorado, it’s beautiful mountains, past great fly fishing experience and now three great nephews as well as a great niece.
This Is How Financing Our Frugal Vacation Came Together
Pay close attention to this part because this is how to create the opportunity to take a frugal vacation. There are essential ingredients to this alchemical formula. They include and are primarily:
• Travel Rewards Credit Cards
• Help from family
• Help from friends
TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARDS
Without having any idea when a trip to Colorado would happen or what it would cost, I went ahead and signed up with our first Travel Rewards Card, The BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card. It was with a highly reputable bank and the one we also had other cards with. After using it for a little while, we accumulated a few hundred travel rewards points. One ticket was charged on that card. This card happens to be the top card recommended by Wise Bread in this article.
I then took advantage of another promotion towards realizing our frugal vacation. It was a Travel Rewards Card from Capital One, Venture One.
By the time I had paid for the airline tickets, I did not need to use the equivalent in travel points of $200.plus. I called Capital One and they were able to upgrade me to the Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card. This became the equivalent of cash I could use anywhere for anything. It actually paid for our out of pocket expenses on our trip.
In continuing my Travel Rewards Credit Card research, I came upon a number of articles about what were considered the best cards for travel rewards. One in particular recommended the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card. It just so happens that Delta Airlines flies to Denver. Also, the promotion for this card included $100 off the first trip and 30,000 additional points if a certain amount of money was charged within a certain amount of time. From past experience, I knew this would be manageable. Due to some confusion with signing up, I ended up with two accounts, saved $200 on our flights and am now working on the 30,000 travel rewards points.
When it came time to go home, we decided to try the SuperShuttle. We had taken the newly completed light rail system from the airport to the hotel. It was a bit grueling as it happened to be raining and snowing that particular day in May. Although it was a thrifty $9. for both of us. Using that method of return transportation was out of the question.
In arranging for our $38. Super Shuttle ride to the airport, there was a prompt on the phone that gave us the opportunity to receive two $20. refund coupons. I usually ignore these kinds of offers. But as a Former Middle Class, I felt it was my duty to investigate. We signed up for $1 to try the greatfun.com website. If we didn’t like it, we could cancel within thirty days and we would receive no other charges. I have to make sure I contact them before June 23. If not, the fee goes up to $16.99 per month.
THANKS TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Our family treated us royally providing food and lodging. Friends drove us to and from the airport, lent money to fill in the gaps and one friend in particular lent us two suitcases which she then said we could keep. Let me not forget our neighbor who took in our mail for the time we were gone so we did not have to deal with the post office.
We already miss the mountain view outside our hotel window. With all the travel points we are now accumulating who know how soon we will have a snow capped view when we look outside. We hope and plan that it will be soon.
From when we first started pricing our trip, the flight costs rose daily. My husband searched for several days and became dizzy between all the various supposed discount options, Orbits.com, Travelocity.com, AARP.com and others. For some reason, I decided to try again. It seemed to me that there had to be a way to get to where we wanted to go and back for under $1200. By the time I finished the research, locked in our fares and got promotional discounts, our airfares were $650 including flight cancellation insurance. Now that we have shared some of the ways to took our frugal vacation, we hope you will find these tips helpful so you can take a frugal vacation, too.
Money, as a government produced commodity is more friendly to the wealthy and decreasing so as one approaches poverty. As a Senior Suburban Survivalist, or a member of The Former Middle Class, The Poor and even the dwindling Middle Class, we need to find more impartial, equitable survival resources. They need to be less dependent on government produced and controlled money.
In addition to the inequity of money is the fact that many of us no longer have enough income or savings to live the traditional life we grew up with or used to have. In other words, we are no longer Middle Class Americans. We are part of the Poor Middle Class Crisis. Many of us are in debt. Many of us baby boomers are now seniors and beyond significant employability.
The most devastating causes of the loss of one’s money can be a serious illness, a death, the termination of a good job, as well as storms and earthquakes. A significant economic downturn can scoop up more of the Middle Class and deposit us, like yesterday’s trash, into the heap of The Poor Middle Class. Some people ended up in the depths of poverty and homelessness from the horrific hurricanes of 2005 and 2012 and the stock market crash of 2008.
Here is an introductory video to the homesteading life, Off Grid with Doug and Stacy.
It is time for a change, a paradigm shift to a new kind of economy. We need an economy that offers alternatives to money as its foundation. We no longer have a large Middle Class or the ease to be part of it. Our government’s focus has shifted. We have a growing Poor Middle Class and increasingly fewer people in possession of the government produced money.
If the economic paradigm does not shift, this is the direction we are headed in. Many people will have to live like slaves. They will continue to have to work two and even three minimum wage jobs. Even then, they may barely make enough money to survive. Also, they may still need government assistance, like food stamps to make ends meet and health insurance to survive.
Disastrous Results From Uneven Distribution of Government Money
If people are not fortunate enough to find work, are not able to work, can’t support themselves or their families and cannot get enough government assistance, they may also become homeless. The number of homeless people in this country is also increasing. One of the changes that needs to take place does not involve going backwards.
The problem will not be solved by increasing jobs in outmoded technologies that will be short lived and not provide health insurance. It will also not be solved by the government’s shifting money around where even less goes to the needy and more goes to national defense. As we know, the haves will rarely give enough to help the have-nots unless they are forced to. It does not look like the current administration is of the mind to force the very wealth to do so. This would require a substantial tax restructuring. This is not going to happen, either. Therefore, what is required is a completely new kind of economy.
Exempt From Disaster
The ultra-wealthy 1% and other very wealthy people might be exempt from needing to be part of this paradigm shift. They could keep their money. In fact, they would continue to monopolize this government commodity. But for those of us who suffer from the lack of money and the results of the unwillingness of the wealthy to share theirs with us, we need a system for The Middle Class, The Poor Middle Class and The Poor to rely as little as possible on government controlled money. As the saying goes, ‘the solution is not in the problem’.
Alternatives To A National Government Money Based Economy
I believe that we are in the beginning of this paradigm shift. Money is becoming harder to come by for too many of us. Therefore, we need to be less dependent on it. As a matter of fact, cash produced by our government is much less involved in our daily goods and services transactions. Here are some of the ways this has already changed:
• Paying with credit cards and being rewarded for it with cash or travel points. See posts about Cash Rewards Credit Cards and Travel Rewards Credit Cards.
• Community currency or local currency is defined by Wikipedia as “In economics, a local currency is a currency that can be spent in a particular geographical locality at participating organisations”.
• Bartering all kinds of food and products (on an individual or community cooperative basis) The Barter Network
• Acquisition without money such as foraging for food, using natural sources of energy, street find, reuse of existing found materials, scavenging for food and other usable items
• Homesteading and off grid living as close to what nature can provide with a bare minimum of cash to live such as Off Grid with Doug and Stacy
• Bitcoin is a digital, international coin system not produced by the US government
This is just the beginning of opening the doors and windows of the proverbial ‘thinking outside the box’. Paradigm shifts do not take place overnight. They only appear to in an historical perspective. We do not have that perspective, yet. This movement is much too new. But the good news for many of us is that is it a is happening and it is in its beginning.