Saturday, May 31, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
"Why do you want to catch a gopher?" I asked.
"To eat him!" was the matter of fact reply with an implied "Duh!" for punctuation.
"Oh!" I answered, and a light went on in my head.
Gophers are made of meat. Gophers are made of free meat. Gophers are free range, antibiotic free and pretty much organic. They apparently taste like chicken. Did I mention that they were free? My interest was piqued. There are only a few problems I could see.
- I've never caught a gopher.
- I don't know where any gopher holes are.
- I'm not sure I really know what a gopher looks like.
- I'm not sure I could really drag a fuzzy little creature out of a hole with a broom handle, nails and can contraption, look in his soft little eyes and then bean him (even if he is made of free meat).
When the economy starts sliding and push comes to shove, what skill have I got? I know how to apply eye liner like Robert Smith. What about my redneck brethren? He's smacking down gopher soup that he caught last night with a Busch Lite can.
The heat is on in our country and suddenly The Great Depression doesn't look so much like ancient history. The rich are insulated with a fat pad of wealth and the brains to keep it. The poor were already in the middle of a fight to survive. It's the middle class that gets the brunt of the shock wave.
In my two car, two and a half bath world it's a nasty surprise to look around and think "What do you mean, I can't afford milk?" It doesn't compute to the Liz Claiborne and Areopostale set. It's taking some of us a moment to let the new reality sink in. Driving and food are expensive. Computers and cars don't really need to be upgraded every year. No, we can't move up into a better neighborhood in the next six months.
My gophers-as-food conversation brought to my attention, however, that there is a valuable subculture among us that can help us all, if we can keep from turning our noses up. Like the Indians showed the early pilgrims how to hunt and grow corn, our twangy accented neighbors suddenly seem invaluable for their do-it-yourselfer ways.
A few days later I had another short conversation that made me re-evaluate our nations middle class values. At the school where I work I was urging children to look through the heaps of lost & found items that had gathered on the cafeteria stage before they were donated to charity.
"Make sure you look for any lost items!" I reminded an Abercrombie & Fitch clad mini fashionista as she cruised by without a glance. She waved a rhinestone covered hand dismissively in my direction.
"My mom never wants me to bring back items if they have been in the lost & found." she declared with a sniff. "They might have cooties."
Amazed, I thought "Good for her!"
One of these days her mom will look around and realize that her credit's run up and American Express is no longer her friend. In the meantime, I'll take her $75 cast off pullover home with me. I have an old fashioned machine called a 'warsher' that kills cooties, and I need something to wear while sitting around the fire pit enjoying my Fuzzy Catch of the Day Fricassee.'
Note from Penny Pinscher: Originally posted on January 23rd, Redneck Economics has been one of the most popular posts ever to appear on this blog. Besides making numerous networld appearances and being forwarded into inboxes everywhere, the opening lines of Redneck Economics were selected as Wisebread's Quote of the Week. We hope you enjoy this flashback!
Monday, May 26, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
- As a rule, I never send anything with personal info on it. Kid's first names are okay to me, but no last names, school names or addresses. I also watch out for envelopes that have "offer id codes" on them.
- Shred all personal info to keep it out of the hands of identity thieves.
- Process mail on a daily basis to avoid having heaps of clutter piled on your microwave waiting to be stuffed.
- Pass this info on to everyone you know that is tired of junk mail and rising postal rates... I think that would be about everyone!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Pay off as much credit card debt as possible. We only have one credit card left, and the balance was $10,000 at the beginning of the month.
Double our Emergency Fund to $2,000. Since everything is becoming so much more expensive, I reason that emergencies might also go up in price. Best to have a little more fat in lean times.
Reduce our expenses as much as possible. This included walking instead of driving, diligently turning off lights when not in use, and conserving water.
Goal number one was accomplished in a big way thanks to 'pinsching' our pennies and using our tax return. Our credit card debt now stands at $5,000. I was also able to accomplish goal number two and goal number three.
Reducing our expenses (gas, electric, water...) was the only way we were able to meet #1 and #2, though that tax return was a big help. I also took all the extra work I could find (without neglecting my kids;) to make extra money.May's goal? Finish paying off that credit card debt. Can you guess where our economic stimulus check is going?
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Fact: The economy is tight, and only getting tighter.
Fact: Waste costs money going in and going out.
Fact: Few entities can afford unnecessary waste in today's economic climate.
Take a look at the picture I took today of typical lunchroom garbage. On any given day about 24 bulging bags go out to fill the big green dumpster outside. But what can we do about it? The kids have to throw away their trash, don't they? I think not.
When I look inside the great plastic cans I see more than waste. Pounds of food go in there to petrify in our landfills, food that my chickens would be glad to devour every day. Feeding the scraps to farm animals would probably reduce our garbage usage by at least half, and the remaining bags would weigh almost nothing.
One strategic change and suddenly the school saves money on waste disposal, gets good public relations when the media finds out what they are doing to make a difference for the environment and makes a whole lotta chickens happy. All it takes is a can dedicated to scraps and an open mind.
Another issue I see are all the Styrofoam dishes we have to use. While they don't weigh much, making them cheaper and easier to dispose of, they cost money whose ultimate resting place is the garbage. Whatever happened to the old plastic and metal trays I used growing up? Use 'em, wash 'em and reduce garbage to the almost gone stage. Buy it once and they last forever.
Of course, I'm just dreaming. I'm not factoring in water costs to wash all those reusable trays, nor the extra labor that would have to be added to wash those trays. But without dreams where would we be? Stuck in the stone age with Fred Flintstone as a neighbor.
It's something to think about.