Monday, November 29, 2010

I couldn't afford a photo

The past several months have found us right smack in the middle of a downturn-and by us, I mean us, not US. I mean me. This is not a post about the economy at large, just the financial climate inside these walls, which, by the way,  I've finally painted and am learning to live with. Still, things are pretty chilly; but it's nothing totally new. I've had practice. We have learned to live fairly frugally, though there was that one shopping trip I bought the most gorgeous Anna Sui dress right off the rack, and the other time I chose three five dollar cupcakes from the bakery and ate them all myself in a display of gluttony I usually reserve for pastries of a lesser pedigree. Think Zingers. 

Usually, however, I am thrift stores and $18 pedicures all the way, but even more so lately, especially since the only inexpensive salon I've found around here won't let me back inside after they tried to use a cheese grater on my feet and I let out what I would call a....medium-sized scream. I'm not even kidding, it was TOTALLY kitchen equipment, straight-up Bed Bath and Beyond and I was not about to let them give me the Parmesan Treatment without a fight.

Does it really matter what my toenails look like in the winter, though? Isn't that one of those Zen things, like a tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it? Especially when the tree (my foot) is covered with the most incredible bruise from having stubbed the baby toe one-too-many-times, and the tree's husband (Joshua) has been rendered almost completely deaf from the string of sailor words/15 minute crying jag that came pouring forth after the aforementioned injury? Would a few coats of Lincoln Park After Dark really make that much of a difference? 

If you answered "no", you win a free cheese grater! For your feet!

So anyway, we're pinching pennies--creatively, and otherwise. One of the traditional money-saving ideas I'd been banking (ha!) on hasn't panned out so well, however. For years I've aspired to save money with coupons--it seems like such a nice idea, doesn't it? Take my sister, the (unofficial) Queen of Coupons, who is constantly impressing me/making me feel inferior with her ability to clip, organize, and make use of what has become, for me, my first baby-step toward being featured on Hoarders. The Road to Hell, otherwise known as my collection of unclipped coupons--is just another great intention gone horribly awry. Take, for instance, the following pre-Halloween conversation:

Joshua: I can't wait 'til our house is all clean and put together.
Me: Tell me about it.
Joshua: We can open the windows, light some candles--get the whole Fall thing going on while I sew  Winnie's Halloween costume.
Me: What's up Betsy Ross? You know you don't have to sew by candlelight anymore since God invented electricity. Wait a minute-is Glenn Beck behind this?
Joshua: NO. It's just that...I can't work in chaos.
Me: Um, that's not chaos. That's my coupon pile. All I have to do is cut those suckers out and we're millionaires. Now, don't be overwhelmed by what seems like a lot of work. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Joshua: (Look of Agony)
Me: Oh, I get it. Is this like the time when you said you would pay me $150 not to be in the diaper study*?
Joshua: (Pleading silently)

There was really no other option. I picked up all the unused coupons and put them in the recycling bin**, after which I yelled "Bam!" and felt like a teenager again. Free at Last! And somewhere, in suburbia, my sister screamed from underneath an avalanche of Hamburger Helper she'd gotten for free--with coupons, of course.

* A market research study I participated in that required me to save ALL of my son's dirty diapers and make little notes about them on a graph they supplied, all in exchange for $150. It was pretty smelly, and emotionally scarring for my husband.

**Full disclosure: I took them out of the recycling bin soon after. I just can't let go of the hope that I'm going to to either a) Become, quite suddenly, EXTREMELY organized/motivated; or b) Persuade my sister to clip the coupons, after which she will place them in a pocket-sized accordion file, drive me to Target, and buy me a Frozen Coke and some popcorn. At this point, whether or not we actually use the coupons will be immaterial.