Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 8, Issue 2 – November 22, 2015

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I hope that this newsletter finds everyone in good spirits and in good health. I am still scratching my head as to where autumn has disappeared to, but according to my calendar, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. How can that be?! I feel like the school year just started a couple of weeks ago.

I happen to have two articles to share with you. One is about the holiday prep, and the other is how to make your life simple. Somehow, this seems like I might be presenting a conflict of interest. Nevertheless, I think that BOTH can be accomplished. I feel that one can have a lovely holiday and still hold some simple ideals. It will take a little planning, and small adjustments. By no means would I ever suggest taking on 17 new life style changes and hold a holiday gathering! That is just plain crazy talk! However, concepts like taking out the garbage, that’s practical and holds a whole host of emotional benefits.

If you feel like Thanksgiving has snuck up on you, too, have no fear. With a little planning and prep, you will be able to host, or attend, Thanksgiving like a champ. For those who might need a refresher course on how to hold a lovely gathering, I found a simple and easy-to-follow guide. You can find the entire article at, but here are Eric Steinman’s “3 Tips to Host a Successful Thanksgiving”:

Sure this is an obvious one, but so many people do a hack job at the fundamentals of planning. This includes everything from assembling a recipe list to making sure you have enough sea salt (I have seen households run out of salt on Thanksgiving – it is not a pretty thing). I would suggest two weeks before T-Day (yes, you are already late) start assembling a recipe list, finalize it, and then start collecting ingredients before the markets run dry. It happens every year. Someone is always brought to tears as they come to terms with the fact that all of the fennel bulbs are gone, gone, gone. Stock your pantry with non-perishables first, and then (closer to Thanksgiving) secure some of the fresher ingredients.

Consider Presentation:
Take stock of all your chairs, dishware, and place settings, making sure you have enough cutlery to prevent your less refined guests from eating with their hands. Are you going to need to buy candles, or borrow chairs, tables, etc? This is all stuff you want secured before Wednesday. Make sure all plates, serving bowls, and linens are clean, and I don’t mean cleaned last December.

Drinks and Hors D’Oeuvres:
There is nothing that provides the necessary buffer between hungry, impatient guests and their delayed meal like a plentiful amount of drinks and hors d’oeuvres. You would be surprised how often these two things are overlooked. Sure there might be a few bottles of beer and some gifted wine, but none of it is inviting enough to provide the necessary distraction and happiness to keep the peace. And for the drinkers and non-drinkers alike, setting out a few plates of finger foods and hors d’oeuvres keep children and prying adults out of the kitchen until the meal is ready to go.

I fully realize that all of have a very busy week ahead of us in order to show a bountiful giving of thanks. So, how about making our lives a little easier? The full article link is here, but, for simplicity’s sake, here are Wanda Urbanska’s 17 suggestions:

  1. Pay your bills immediately
    Some people advise holding on to your money until the last possible moment. The idea is that this helps you accrue interest. I say, pay your bills the minute you receive them so you can turn your attention elsewhere. As long as a bill is hanging out there in the unpaid category, it occupies mental space worth far more than the pennies in interest you stand to gain. Another option: Pay your bills the day you get paid. The minute you deposit your paycheck, send in all the bills that have arrived during that pay period. That way, the bills won’t be on your mind, and you will know exactly how much money you have left over until you get paid again.
  2. Empty your trash
    Staring into an overflowing wastebasket makes you feel bloated, while an empty receptacle signals that your slate has been cleared, and you’re ready to move forward. One of the quickest “feel-good” exercises is taking out the trash. (Another place to “take out the trash” is your computer desktop. It’s a spot that gets cluttered quickly — and it feels great when it’s clean!)
  3. Take “time for self” every day
    If you let the batteries in your camera die, it doesn’t work. Don’t neglect your own personal batteries. Take what sociologists call “time for self” every day. Figure out what replenishes you — a daily walk, yoga, practicing guitar or a warm bath before bed — then incorporate it into your routine.
  4. Spend time outdoors every day
    Whether it’s sunny or overcast or snowing, step outside to reconnect with nature. Even if it’s only a walk around the block or having your morning coffee on the front step, that short time outside will refresh and energize you.
  5. Celebrate your victories!
    In the rush of our lives, too often we allow our “mountaintop moments” to pass unnoticed. When you reach a milestone, even if it’s minor in the greater scheme of things, take time to savor it.
  6. Carpool
    This old idea is worth revisiting. It not only saves fuel and wear and tear on your car, it also gives you the chance to connect with others and build friendships along the way. What’s more, on those days when you’re the passenger, you can kick back and enjoy the ride.
  7. Pay in cash
    Identify a personal-spending trouble spot and shift to a cash-only policy. For instance, if you overspend on lattes, or clothing and shoes, allocate a reasonable allowance each month and pay in cash. Withdraw the cash needed for this category and see how far you can make your money stretch. Paying with cash forces you to see — right there in your billfold — exactly how much you have, preventing you from losing sight of your real-dollar outflow.
  8. Save your loose change
    Another easy habit to adopt around a “cash diet” is saving your petty change. Here’s how it works: If you buy a bottle of wine that comes to $9.19, pay with a $10 bill. At day’s end, put the 81 cents in change directly into your piggy bank or an old glass jar. This savings plan is relatively painless, keeps the jangling coins out of your purse or pocket, and can deliver a bonus of several hundred dollars at year’s end.
  9. Take a vacation
    Be sure to budget time and money for a vacation this year. If possible, take two weeks (or more), preferably away from home, at a place of natural beauty. Studies show that two consecutive weeks — not one week, not 10 days — are needed to recover from burnout. Vacations also deliver long-term health benefits such as reducing your risk of coronary heart disease.

10.Turn on the ceiling fan
If you’re lucky enough to have a ceiling fan in your home, use it. Fans circulate the air, provide a soothing, low-level whir (the white noise can help you sleep), and reduce cooling bills in the summer and heating bills in the winter.

11.Hang clothes outside
I was overjoyed to rediscover in middle age that my childhood chore of hanging clothes on the line was actually pleasurable. What’s more, putting up clothes, towels and linens in the blazing sun (satisfying tip No. 4) gives your laundry the indescribably wonderful smell of sunshine and fresh air.

12.Determine whether your job is right for you
How do you feel about your job? Do you feel like you are doing something worthwhile — creating something of lasting value? If the answer is no, reflect on what type of work you would enjoy more. Then, begin looking for new opportunities — or, if there are currently few opportunities to be had, look for ways to make your current job more of what you want it to be. (For tips on that, see “The Paycheck Trap” in the March 2010 archives at experience When you love what you do, life is happier, easier — and simpler, by far.

13.Banish boredom with board games
Instead of electronic entertainment, gather your crew for old-fashioned board games like Monopoly, Clue and Scrabble. Or assemble a jigsaw puzzle, deal a game of gin rummy or play a round of charades.

14.Buy used
Secondhand or consignment shops are great places to find clothes, kitchen equipment and even furniture. Buying used costs less and cuts down on packaging waste, thus reducing your carbon footprint.

15.Disconnect and reconnect
Take time every day to disconnect from electronics. At dinnertime, turn off the computer and television, and let all phone calls go to voice mail. Bar all hand-held devices from the table. This will open the way for eye-to-eye contact and genuine engagement.

16.Write financial affirmations
Identify a specific financial goal and write it down affirmation-style, as though it is a current reality (“My mortgage is retired,” or, “I am gloriously debt-free”). Then post the affirmation on your fridge, bathroom mirror or as a screen saver. Keep your affirmation short (no more than a dozen words), sweet and upbeat. Your affirmation will help set the stage for a future reality.

  1. Stop and chat
    When you’re out for a walk in the neighborhood or standing in the supermarket line, make small talk. Ask the cashier about her earrings or tattoo; compare notes with your neighbor about growing tomatoes. You will find that “small talk” isn’t small, but surprisingly big and meaningful.

And there you have it, my Thrifty Sisters!  May each of you have a week full of giving thanks, connecting with friends and relatives, and safe travels, all while trying to simply your life one step at a time. Keep on keeping it thrifty and fun, my friends!

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