Austerity Measures -- Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Dancers Anonymous' started by pygmalion, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Simplest great bread: no knead recipe: 1lb of AP or bread flour, it doesn't really matter. 1/4 tsp yeast, 1 tsp salt, 13 oz water. Mix it up thoroughly, it will be a very wet dough. Let it rise overnight. Two trifolds to form a loaf, let it rise for another hour. Then bake in a dutch oven at 450F. If you search for no-knead break, you should be able to find Mark Bittman's article. The very wet dough, and time, lets the gluten form without kneading. This is my single highest demand item from the family.

    I have a breadmaker that has been gathering dust in the basement since I found out it's so easy to make a really good boule.
     
  2. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    As to Costco, I find pricing is a mixed bag. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for knowing the prices of stuff when you go shopping. I have different stores at which I get the best price for different items, food or otherwise. If you have a large asian community in your area, by all means find the asian grocery store and check it out for veggies. The prices are sometimes half of the regular supermarkets, and you don't have to buy in bulk.
     
  3. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    On coffee. It blows my mind when I see people who I know are in credit card debt blow money daily on Starbucks. I can make myself great coffee, in the office, with the main expense being the beans. I have to. I seem to consistently work at places that make barf-worthy coffee.
    When I was a kid, if my dad wanted to drink coffee during the workday, he filled a thermos in the morning.

    Every once in a while, I get myself a new coffee toy. Latest one is an Aeropress. Ends up, when you factor in the just the filters that came with it, that it costs me about 8 cents a cup. The money I save can go to buying good beans...
     
  4. JudeMorrigan

    JudeMorrigan Well-Known Member

    That is very true for ethnic markets in general. I made chili this weekend, and decided to break down and visit a hispanic market for my anchos. It was comical how much less they were there than in the regular supermarket.
     
  5. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    IT blows my mind that anyone who likes coffee would blow money at Starbucks..
     
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  6. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    Other austerity measures:

    - Public transportation - I rode the bus here in town for a number of years, before I decided my time was more valuable than the money I was saving on gas; my employer offers a transit subsidy, which I used when I rode the bus, and I'm sure a lot of other employers do; another tip is to combine trips if I have multiple errands

    - Wellness subsidy - my employer offers some kind of subsidy for a gym membership; it itsn't much, which is why I haven't looked into it; I got a good deal with my current gym; I paid a year in advance and got a extra year free

    - Flu Shot - there is a health clinic in the building where I work; every year I get a flu shot for free; it saves me a trip to the doctor

    - Damaged clothing items - most stores will give you an extra percentage off or heavily discount if an item on their floor is stained, ripped or otherwise damaged; if an item can be washed or repaired easily, sometimes it's worth it if the deal is good enough; almost all of the time these kinds of sales are final
     
  7. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Now, now, let's not be a coffee snob. After all, once you start adding dairy/pseudo-dairy, syrups, etc., it is coffee flavored soft drinks, not coffee.

    And on the other end of the spectrum, we have people that will spend $1k on an espresso machine, because "it's not really espresso unless it's made at X degrees and Y millibars".

    I grew up with espresso brewed on the stovetop. If pressed, I will improvise a cappuccino at home. It took a while to figure out what the flock a "latte" was. When I was growing up, caffe latte was about 1 part espresso coffee to three parts hot milk, normally consumed with bread as a light meal. (If it hasn't become obvious by now, I'm Italian.)

    Starbucks is a genius. They figured out people are willing to pay $5 for a coffee-flavored drink, and carrying around one of those signature cups has become a bit of a status symbol. "Look at me, I can afford ludicrously overpriced milk with coffee and syrup..."

    I have watched a basic, simple pleasure of my youth become cartoonish in many ways.
     
  8. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

     
  9. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    For me, bus riding is actually the timesaver. My employer actually gives me a monthly bus pass.
    I ride an express bus that drops me off a block from work. My last employer has multiple gyms on site. No extra cost, just drop in. Much more common with very large companies.
    If you have the time, thrift stores are good for clothes.

    I have gotten to a point in my life that I pretty much wear a "uniform", same basic clothes every day, so when things wear down, I find that sale and buy my preferred items in bulk.
     
    Purr likes this.
  10. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    A Volunteers of America shop is near me, that I donate clothing and household goods to on a regular basis.

    I've bought 2 or 3 skirts, a dress blouse, and jewelry items there. Another family member has bought lots of stuff there. You just have to have a lot of patience to go through everything, and, of course, launder anything before you wear it. ;)
     
  11. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I've tried that, and prefer the Cook's Illustrated version of no knead bread. It's actually extremely little knead bread, but still ridiculously easy. And they've got variations available, which are nice (cranberry nut, rye, rosemary parmesan olive...and I've done sun dried tomato and parmesan).
     
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  12. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    LOL. Wow. You have no idea how many memories you just triggered for me (in a good way). My grandfather used to have this for breakfast every day, with half a grapefruit during winter or grapefruit juice in summer (he loved grapefruit). You've just reminded me of when we lived with them for about six months--every morning, sitting next to him (I sat at his right hand.), having breakfast, watching him eat that.

    Thank you. This just made my day.

    (In case you didn't know, or I hadn't made it clear, I'm also Italian.)
     
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  13. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    Not exactly an austerity measure, but just thought of it; I try to hold off on purchases from department store cosmetic brands until they have a gift with puchase; usually I buy a skin care item; the lipsticks in a gift with purchase are usually full size; the eyeshadows and blushes last a long time; any mascara seems to last awhile; just got a flyer for a gift with purchase at Lancome
     
  14. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    An avoidance-of-buyer's-regret measure. If I really lust after a relatively expensive item, I wait for at least three months before pulling the trigger on buying it. Most times, by then, the impulse has faded. If it's still going strong, then I will do more research and buy.
     
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  15. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    I don't stricly follow Bittman's any more, either. You can't make a good batard in a dutch oven, let alone a baguette. I also start with a cold oven and/or dutch oven, to allow for more oven rise.
     
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    I use this tactic with relatively inexpensive things, too, if they're impulse purchases. An example would be sweaters on sale at a department store. Yes. I would like to have that pretty new sweater in five different colors. But, even if they're on sale, I didn't walk into Macy's planning to buy five sweaters. So I leave the sweaters at Macy's (unless they're an incredible steal like Purr was talking about.) I go home and check to see if I already have something similar. If I don't have a similar sweater (which I often do) I wait, then go back to Macy's the next day or a couple days later.

    I figure, if I don't have a similar sweater, I'm still motivated to drive all the way back to the store, AND the store still has the colors I want and size I need, it must be a God thing. I was meant to have those sweaters. Added bonus: By two days later, usually one of more of the size/color combinations I wanted is gone. So now, instead of buying five sweaters, I end up buying two or three.

    Bottom line. I give myself LOTS of ways to avoid buying things I don't need.
     
  17. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I also want to share a little tactic that I have used a few times -- a spending log. I don't use this every day, but I have used it to help me create a new budget a few times. It's simple. You buy a little notebook and carry it with you everywhere for a few weeks. You write down every single thing you buy along with prices. No exceptions. At the end of a few weeks, you go back through your notebook and look for patterns.

    The first time I did this I discovered that I was spending too, too much on tea. Bear in mind that this was a long time ago. I am indeed very old. lol. The cafeteria where I worked at the time charged $0.35 for a tea bag. Cups and hot water were free. (Okay. Fine. Yes. $0.35 for a cup of tea. I SAID I am old. lol.) Anyway. I would buy tea four times a day -- a cup before work, a cup after lunch, and a cup at each break. No problem, $0.35 is cheap, right?

    Well, at that time I was in my first real job and really struggling to make my car payment -- $250 a month. Imagine my surprise when I multiplied out the cost of all that tea and realized that, if I had taken tea bags from home, the money I saved in a year would make a whole car payment for me. One down, eleven to go.

    That was enlightening, to say the least.
     
  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    I'm with tt and Peaches on this one.

    Costco is groovy, but know how much food costs and avoid impulse buying. And I'll add my own caveat. Do the arithmetic; don't just assume that jumbo packages are a better bargain. Do some quick math in your head. I often find that the jumbo packages are not as much of a bargain as you'd think, once I calculate price per ounce (or whatever.) Buying a smaller package on sale at the grocery store might be a better deal, overall.

    My other caveat: Don't buy food that you're going to throw away. I know that sounds obvious. But what I mean is that, especially for perishables (such as fresh fruit and veg,) bigger is not always better. A two pound tub of baby spinach from Costco for $4 sounds like a bargain. But a 12 ounce bag for $3 is a better deal, if all I'm going to eat is 12 ounces. If I buy the big, "bargain" package and throw away most of the spinach, then I'm actually throwing away a dollar.
     
  19. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Single best thing I did that helped me get out of debt: I started using Quicken. I had already been balancing my checkbook and tracking my credit cards using spreadsheets before then, but there was nothing like popping up that net worth chart to motivate me in adjusting my spending habits. Not saying it has to be that software, but something that makes it easy to *see* how much you are in the red or black is very motivating.
     
  20. ChaChaMama

    ChaChaMama Well-Known Member

    I don't know if this counts, but for what it's worth....

    -We paid off of our mortgage early. This saved a TON of money. Probably the best financial decisions we ever made were to re-fi from a 30 year fixed to a 15 year fixed, and then to pay off that 15 yr. early.

    -I don't have a cell phone plan. I do pay-as-you-go. Also, my phone is an unfancy 2005 non-smart phone. I'm sure you can imagine how deeply impressed my students are with this phone! ;) It is like the anti-status symbol. But it meets my needs for now.

    -I also drive a 2000 vehicle that we paid for in full at the time of purchase. My husband's vehicle is a 1997. When we buy our next vehicle, we will also buy it outright.
    -My spousal unit and I always max out the "employer match" on our respective retirement funds. We also put $450/month in a 529 for our daughter.

    -I get my hair cut/colored at The Hair Cuttery. I've got a person I like there, and I think she does just as good a job as someone at a fancy day spa would, but for more attractive price.
     
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