Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Being Broke 101

In the many months that GH has been without a job, I've become a bone fide expert on being broke. Yes that's right, broke, not frugal, as frugal is a word for people who actually have money but are saving up for things like a house, a new car, or a fluffy new poodle. Frugal is a word for people who choose to cut back. Broke is a word for those of us who have seen our bank accounts dip below $10.

Now that we've cleared that up, I'm willing to share my broke living tips, free of charge, though frugal people are welcome to send donations- no poodles please.

Broke Ass Tips

1. Ramen Noodles are your friend. Now, I'm not suggesting you feed these to your kids, as their nutritional value is zero, but they are perfect for a cheap lunch for grown ups. After all, I think Ramen is Chinese for "Cheap Ass".You can take them to work. You can eat them at home. You can juggle them for cheap entertainment! Add a few leftover veggies or meats and it's like eating a real meal. If people look at you funny for eating this college dorm staple, just tell them it's a new fabulous diet.

2. Leftovers are also your friend. Never throw out a leftover. NEVER. This is an important commandment of being broke ass. Leftover roast and veggies can be sandwiches, or beef veggie soup. Those mashed potatoes? Tomorrow night's potato pancakes. And don't forget, all leftovers can be put in the freezer for later use. Think like a Native American- every part of the leftover is sacred and useful.

3. Go shopping armed with a list. The grocery list is your most powerful weapon. Use it wisely. Make a list of essentials only. If you can manage to plan ahead for your week's meals, you'll be doing even better. Stick to the list. Remember, Ben & Jerry's is not an essential.

4. Change is awesome. I've always kept an "oh crap" emergency money jar of all my loose change. This is for when I have no money for gas to get to work, or run out of milk before payday. I hide this jar from both GH and the children. However, I'm not above stealing GH's loose change and putting it in the jar if he's foolish enough to leave it laying around. Love this jar. Cherish this jar. Guard this jar with your life.

5. Don't be afraid to be cold. My thermostat has only gone above 66 degrees on a few special occasions this year. Keep your socks on, wear sweaters, and curl up with a blankie. Spring will be here soon. Cheap heating fuel will not.

6. Pipe cleaners- good cheap fun. "Look kids, its a bendy worm. Now it's a G! Here's a K! And er, another worm..."

7. Borrowing. Borrow movies from friends and neighbors. Borrow books from the library. Borrow inspiration and support from other bloggers- after all, you know you'll give it back in the end :)

Of course there's more, but time is money, and I'm off to knit pipe cleaners into the new wardrobe I can't afford.

Please feel free to share your best "Broke Ass" tips.


Jennifer, Le Binky Bitch said...

This is a seriously awesome post. Funny AND so, so true.

emily said...

I save all our toilet paper and paper towel rolls and egg cartons. It is amazing what they turn into on a yucky weather day.

And I keep ramen at my desk at work. It is a guilty pleasure of mine and one of my favorite foods :)

Christine said...

I'm there...totally there.

My tip: burn your CD's so you've got a digital copy and sell them. Seriously, you can get a lot for them.

Yeah, that's how we get gas money sometimes.

Caffeine Court said...

My project this week is selling my stuff on e-bay. Every penny I bring in counts!

Blog Antagonist said...

Oh boy, been there, and still visit more often that I'd like.

sunny said...

I'm new to your blog..but I love this posting!! I have so been there/done that. And that change that you said to guard it and cherish it. I do.. there have been times when it has gotten me gas or a few groceries in a week where I just had nothing left before payday.

change is my friend :)

eureka mom said...

I read an article in a parenting magazine that stated the fact that we bathe our children too much. It said that before puberty, kids only need bathing 2-3 times a week. As long as they wash their face, hands, and tushies daily, we can save lots of money by not giving them a full bath so often.

I have also started having my kids shower instead of taking baths, which uses much less water. Every little bit helps, right??

Jenn said...

Oatmeal is my favorite food staple for our little broke ass castle dwellers.

And it has nutritional value, so I don't feel like a total ass serving it up to the Queens.

$5 a gallon for gas and $4 for milk? I'm not sure how the hell we're going to do up for sale, walking where we can, planting a garden, having yard sales to remove the non-essentials, but still...

Where was I?

Oh yes, oatmeal.

Frugal Finds said...

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Frugal Carol