The holiday shopping frenzy has taken on a new start. Each year the beginning becomes earlier in the season. In fact, this year one could not distinguish the Halloween decorations from the Thanksgiving decor. In addition to that, the spirit of Christmas had started to sneak in too. I really began to wonder,’ what is going on’?
On Your Mark, Get Set, Shop
The outcry of ‘On Your Mark, Get Set, Shop’ signaled the beginning of the earliest holiday shopping frenzy on record. Usually ‘Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving is the start. That day has also crept up in the seasonal calendar. To the dismay of many employees, stores open right after Thanksgiving dinner or before daylight on Black Friday. I attributed this shift to nothing but mere consumerism. But this year is different.
There are several reasons for this change. Consumerism may be part of it. But something else plays a major part in this holiday shopping frenzy, FEAR. What exactly is the cause? Several come to mind. We are in the midst of a pandemic. Even though everyone hoped it would have subsided by now, it is only getting worse. So how does this affect holiday shopping? People are afraid that stores will run out of items. In addition, there is a fear that stores will have to close down again. Lastly, there is mistrust that things ordered online will not arrive in time.
On Your Mark, Get Set, Stop
This holiday season is going to look very different. Most likely, social distancing and sequestering are going to intensify. For safety’s sake, gatherings will be limited to immediate family. Maybe we need to rethink what this time of year is meant to be about. Thanks for Thanksgiving. Gratitude for Hannukah, the festival of lights, Christmas blessings, Kwanza cheer.
Instead of worrying about getting the last parking spot in your favorite store or mall, this may be the year to stop and think. Let’s think about the true meaning of these holidays. They all fall around a pivotal point in the year. Even before these fairly modern holidays, Mother Nature determined their meaning. The shortest day of the year, the longest night of the year was followed by the beginning of renewal, hope, and light. May the coming year bring all of those to all of us. Amen.
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
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.
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.
Senior suburban survivalism has become our new way of life. The purpose of this blog post is to explain what this new way of life or lifestyle is. I also detail our need for it. In addition, I explore this lifestyle so that the knowledge of survival tools is made available to others members of The Poor Middle Class. I want to inspire hope in others who are in the same or similar financial situation to us. Learn much more about The Poor Middle Class on earlier posts of my blog and in the chapters of The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook.
Surviving In A Middle Class Suburban World As Part of The Poor Middle Class
Because we are part of The Poor Middle Class, life has become increasingly challenging for us. As seniors aka boomers and part of The Poor Middle Class, we have had to find new lifestyle tools to survive in suburbia. We strive for a good life in spite of our limited financial resources. We are proud because we are rich in resourcefulness and hope.
Both senior suburban survivalism and homestead/off grid living have contributed to our new life. By preference, we are adopting lifestyle changes that are intrinsic to homesteading and off grid living. By necessity, we have become suburban survivalists. In fact, one could say that Senior Suburban Survivalism is a new alternative lifestyle for suburban members of The Poor Middle Class. We are learning to balance these alternate lifestyles to create a new life that is affordable and that works for us.
What Is Survivalism?
Survivalism is defined in Wikipedia as “. . . a movement of individuals or groups who are actively preparing for emergencies, including possible disruptions in social or political order, on scales from local to international.” Preparation tends to involve the ability to live in rustic, primitive conditions. It can include altering one’s relationship to the political, social and economic establishment.
For The Poor Middle Class, serious disruption to our social (economic) order has already taken place. It means that we are no longer middle class financially. But we still live in a Middle Class material world. There are steep financial requirements to live comfortably and securely in that world. But they are beyond our reach.
Additionally, the current political climate may cause our social order to be disrupted even further. Be that as it may, there are aspects of survivalism as well as qualities of homesteading and off grid living that we are applying to our suburban, poor middle class lives. Out of necessity, we have become suburban survivalist. Out of desire, we are also adopting homesteading and off grid living qualities. Our hope is that our new formula for living will work even when life is more of a challenge.
Homesteading and Off Grid Living
Homesteading involves living off the land, in a simple and close relationship with nature. Off grid living involves the absence of municipal utilities such as electricity, gas, heating and cooking sources as well as water. This elimination of this dependency is by choice.
Both of these lifestyles sound exciting and romantic to me. But these alternate lifestyles are for younger folks who are more robust than we are. Therefore, a compromise of incorporating homesteading/off grid qualities into our lives as senior suburban survivalists is one way we can live our dream. Below is the video introduction to Off Grid with Doug and Stacy. They are well respected ‘leaders’ of the of homesteader/off grid living community. As you can see from the video, Doug and Stacy have found great joy in their homesteading/off grid life.
Our New Life As Senior Suburban Survivalists
We have been forced into senior suburban survivalism rather than able to chose homesteading/off grid living for two reasons:
• our age-the rigorousness life of homesteading/off grid living is for younger folks
• our financial circumstances-we do not have any financial resources to purchase land or materials to create an off grid homestead
In spite of our limitations, we still derive great pleasure from aspects of our new life. Here are ways that we have adopted into our daily lives what we can of ‘the real thing’ as homesteader/off grid type folks:
• Housing-our senior housing is affordable, we have no mortgage to pay and we would be homeless or close to it without this amenity
• Food-the weekly food pantry we get food from has become our personal vegetable garden
• Foraging-local parks and green spaces make foraging still possible in the suburbs
• Traditional food & beverage preparation and preservation-these techniques are totally viable, easy to learn, close to nature, full of healthy probiotics, are frugal and avoid food waste • Living a simpler and slower life-we have chosen to slow our lives down even though we still live in the fast paced suburbs
• Budgeting-we spend very carefully and as little as possible while sticking to a strict budget
• Acquiring things like Clothes and Furniture-we utilize free resources from our food pantry, our neighborhood, flea markets and thrift stores
I am an eager beginner in understanding what homesteading, off grid living and survivalism are and how we can incorporate them into our lives. I feel that we have embraced the spirit of them and welcome whatever works into our home and lives. So far, we have found that as we simplify and scale down, our lives have become richer and fuller. We look forward to the bounty of adventures and discoveries that lie ahead on this journey of our new life.
This post was originally written before The Trump Administration came into power. One of their campaign promises was to repeal and replace Obamacare. At this time, it is not known what the outcome will be. But an article in TalkPoverty.com indicates that a completely new plan could decimate Medicaid for seniors and people with disabilities.
The Healthcare Insurance Crisis
There is a Poor Middle Class healthcare insurance crisis in this country. In fact, this issue is of growing concern. The lack of sufficient medical care coverage for many people is the cause. The cost for others is also of great concern. The deepest concern is felt by the poor and poor middle class. Here’s the reason. With the election of the new President, the Obamacare Program was promised to be discarded and replaced. But now in spite of that promise, no one knows what would or could replace it.
At present closer examination, lawmakers see that Obamacare will not be so easy to repeal and replace. Instead of such an extreme measure, they are suggesting that refinement may be a more reasonable solution. But with the new President, this could be even more of a challenge. The reason is that he is not in favor of compromise. He would rather make a sweeping changes. That would mean erasing the blackboard and starting over from scratch. According to the map in Figure 1 below, Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion could be in jeopardy. This could impact healthcare negatively for many people.
Medicare and Medicaid
Essentially, the differences between Medicare and Medicaid is fairly straightforward. In other words, eligibility for Medicare is at age 62. Contrary to Medicare, Medicaid benefits are based on financial need and disabilities rather than by age. In addition, individuals above a certain income level pay a monthly premium for Medicare. Not only that, they have a co-pay for medical services. On the other hand, Medicaid recipients do not have a co-pay. Let’s go to Wikipedia for more thorough definitions of Medicare and Medicaid.
The Wikipedia definitions for Medicare and Medicaid
The Prospects for Poor Middle Class Healthcare
There are added benefits to Medicaid over Medicare. Therefore, maintaining Medicaid is a major concern for poor middle class people’s health care insurance. Individuals on Medicaid have:
• a zero monthly premium
• 100% coverage for primary medical care
• referred coverage at no charge
• minimal charge for prescriptions
What Coverage and Financing is at Risk Under a Repeal of the ACA Medicaid Expansion?
WARNING, using credit cards can be like carrying a loaded gun. At the same time, they can be financially beneficial if you know how to shoot. On the other hand, they can be deadly if you don’t. In fact, many people do end up in debt using them. The interest that accumulates can make it impossible to ever pay them off. Groups that help people get out of debt prohibit their use altogether.
But in my case, using credit cards is part of my financial survival toolkit. With this caveat, I also strongly suggest the following. If you are not able to be vigilant using them by never missing a payment, do not include them in your financial survival toolkit.
How I Make Money Using Credit Cards
Yes, I have actually learned how to accumulate cash or credit towards purchases using my credit cards*. So far, I have discovered two ways to create income. If you know of others, please let me know. I have the following cards:
• a cash rewards card
• a travel points card
* The ‘income’ from them, the cash rewards are not taxable because the money is a discount or purchase rebate, not income itself.
Cash Rewards Credit Cards
Some banks offer credit cards that accumulate cash points for purchases. The points are a percentage of the expense. They range between 1% and 3%. I have been able to earn about $20/month with this system.
Travel Rewards and Sky Miles Credit Cards
I signed up for a travel rewards credit card when the bank had a special promotion. If I charged a certain amount of purchases within three months, I would receive 20,000 in travel points. I did this. The travel points will go towards a trip out of state to see family and friends.
Sources & Resources
Here is a list of the best credit cards for a variety of categories. You can explore these websites for even more suggested card categories.
We love stories. We can read a book or have one read to us. Perhaps a story is online or viewable on the multiplicity of media available. Ultimately, the result of the creation of an authentic story is a treat for us all. Besides entertaining, a story can be informative. In addition, it can promote a business or a product. Whatever the purpose, the process is basically the same. In this post, the focus is on the process.
The Creation of a Story
The process of creating an authentic story requires intensive research and lots of writing. I’ve created several stories containing the required elements. In all four authentic story situations, there was access to primary sources and extensive research. Sometimes having access to primary sources is impossible. So when it does happen, it can be very special for both the writer and the reader.
Four Authentic Stories
The authentic stories here touch upon four different non-fiction topics:
• business-a multi-million dollar corporation that started in a janitor’s closet
• social issues-The Middle Class Poor Crisis, a serious situation that exists today
• creativity-a creative-organizational process called Knolling
• music-some very special musicians
Each of these stories is set up as a series of blog posts. To read each of them, click on their link. That will be the first post of the story. You will be able to read the additional posts from there.
The Story of A Corporation That Started In A Janitor’s Closet
Poor middle class thrifty shopping tools are part of my financial survival toolkit. My toolkit is filled with tools that I have discovered and tools that others have shared with me. By participating in this process, we are all part of a financial survival support community.
This blog post is part of the series, The Poor Middle Class Crisis. Most of the thrifty shopping tools that I describe in this post and have added to my Poor Middle Class Financial Survival Toolkit come directly from a dear friend of mine, Danny Eitingon. He is very much part of my financial survival support community.
Using The Financial Survival Toolkit
Thrifty shopping tools from a financial survival toolkit can help many other poor middle class people survive, as well. Sharing this information is how we can help each other to survive. Not only do I welcome and appreciate input to fill my toolkit with but we also all benefit from sharing tools with each other. This give and take can helpful for everyone. In fact, it is why I call this exchange a financial survival support community.
A Financial Survival Support Community
Thrifty shopping tools are intended to help Poor Middle Class people. In addition, these tools are prudent for use by people who are still middle class. Becoming an educated consumer is especially important now. We can all benefit from being part of a financial survival support community. We take tools when we need them. Then we add tools when we can spare them. The following tools that have been shared with me and added to my Poor Middle Class Financial Survival Toolkit.
Shop at Dollar Stores
• Shop at the dollar store for short-life items. For example, you can buy soap, napkins, toilet paper, shampoo, paper towels, etc. There are many perfectly decent products, including environmentally friendly ones, that really do only cost a dollar!
Save on Gas
• Go to Gas Buddy to find the cheapest gas in your neighborhood.
Alternatives to Expensive, New Furniture, Household Items and Clothing
• Consider a buckwheat mattress
• Acquire wooden furniture like tables, dressers, desks from places like the Salvation Army
• Shop thrift stores for good quality, second hand, even vintage clothes
Buy In Bulk
• If you are shopping for a large family or need large quantities and have the storage space, join Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s for less than $50/yr. You can save hundreds, possibly thousands per year buying in large quantities or bulk.
Buy Store Brands
• Try store-brand rather than name brand products. Many are significantly cheaper. In addition, quality is very often not compromised. This is especially true with cleaning products and other household items.
• Recycle soda bottles, cans and water bottles
You will be surprised by how much change you can accumulate using this simple thrifty shopping tip.
Negotiate on Utilities
• Contact your Internet service provider, telephone, and other utility providers every six months. That way you find out if the they are offering less expensive plans than you currently have. Sometimes, you can achieve significant savings by contacting your utility companies on a regular basis. Try to negotiate more economical plans.
Compare Credit Card Rates
• Check your credit card companies on a regular basis. See if they’re offering new cards with lower interest rates or better rewards programs than the one you have. Banks will not automatically transfer your account to a lower-interest or better reward credit card. Instead, they will let you cancel your existing card and apply for a new one.
Join Credit Unions
• Join credit unions instead of banks. Their interest rates and fees tend to be significantly lower than banks. Credit unions offer the same exact products and services as banks. In fact, credit union customer service is often significantly better.
Get Online Savings
• Subscribe to online savings (21st Century coupon clipping)
Many companies offer discount programs if you provide them with an email address or text number.
Save on Car Insurance
• Shop around at least once every 12-18 months for cheaper car insurance. This is especially important if you have an excellent driving record and/or are a senior. Significant savings can be realized by changing car insurance from time to time.
Compare Service Contractor Costs
• Always shop around for service contractors of any kind, e.g. plumbers, carpenters, electricians, car repair, etc. The competition among trade contractors can be fierce, but make sure you check out their reviews before hiring one. Angie’s List or similar services can be very helpful in this regard.
Subscribe to Consumer Reports
• Subscribe to Consumer Reports to check out their product reviews. Their research on the quality and value of appliances, electronics, and cars is really reliable. It can save you a lot of money in the long run.
The Poor Middle Class Crisis is real and it is serious. This Financial Survival Resource Guide can help individuals and families alleviate the effects of the Poor Middle Class Crisis. The guide consists of a series of blog posts. The goals of this Financial Survival Resource Guide are:
1. to make people aware of tools to help build a financial survival toolkit
2. to encourage people to form ‘financial survival support groups’ or communities with other poor middle class people
3. to share our experience in the day-to-day survival as poor middle class people to give other people hope for survival
At this time, the guide is a series of blog posts written by me for people like me, the poor middle class. This post is an overview that introduces all of the blog posts in this guide. Because I am a visual person and I love tool boxes, I am using this great lime green tool storage box as the storage box for my ‘Financial Survival Toolkit’.
LIST OF BLOG POSTS
Each blog post title is an underlined link to the post itself. Click on it to view a post that interests you. They include: