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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Advice and Cereal: Frugal Friends

I have one extremely frugal colleague, and my life took a definite upward turn when I moved to the office opposite his. (The window also helped). We chat about trivial things, which is relaxing, and fairly important things, which is not. Last week he brought me a frugal gift: a twin pack of Kashi cereal. "Why are you giving this to me? Don't you like it?"

Frugal Colleague explained that the twin pack was marked down to $1.25 at Walmart and that he had bought all 7 packs. And I was to be the recipient of one of the packs. There was also a sticky coupon for a free pack of cereal bars. Wow! thanks, Frugal Colleague.

This morning, Frugal Colleague explained that his new dental crown broke off when he was eating part of a chocolate Easter bunny that was reduced to 25 cents. Since we share the same dentist (and I swear that, between our families, we contribute about 90% of her income) I could tell him that her phone # is listed and that she takes emergency calls.

After he came back from the dentist's office, we continued out chat. As it happened, he had many issues to discuss. As it also happened, I had advice on all of them. So, just in case you have any of the same questions, here is the advice.

1. Frugal Colleague said he and his wife had not made any funeral arrangements.

Advice: Look into a burial society, like the Neptune Society. These are prepaid and no-frills. My in-laws did this and, when my mother-in-law died, it was a great simplifier.

2.Frugal Colleague said he had to buy some quick-drying pants for a 10-day trip to Turkey.

Advice: Pack about 3 pairs of old pants and discard as you go along. That way, you'll have room for souvenirs. Not that frugal people buy many souvenirs.

3. Frugal Colleague's wife just turned 66 and thinks she should wait till 70 to take Social Security.

Advice: Take it now, and repay at 70 if you want to reset the payments. This is a little-known feature of social security.

And here is a little poem from the days of autograph books. It is sent out to students and teachers during finals.

Can't think, brain numb,
Inspiration won't come.
Can't write, bad pen,
Best wishes , Amen.


Lucy Marmalade said...

I love this! You are just full of advice, dear mother. I also remember fondly the autograph book days of yore, and I think it's actually "Bad ink, worse pen, best wishes, amen."


simple in France said...

Excellent advice. I took a class in college that covered some unusual topics such as living wills and burial wishes--the Neptune Society is the only thing that makes sense in my mind. I think there is an equivalent here in France.

The disposable pants idea is a pretty good one--provided you have pants to 'dispose of.' But basically, I did the same thing toward the end of my trip in Madagascar: gave away or traded away all my US clothing for other loot. By the way, US clothing is a nice thing to trade in some markets. It can get you a good deal depending what it is.

As for the Social Security. . .I'll keep that in mind in case it ever applies to me. . .

Shelley said...

Awesome advice, thanks. Especially the bit about social security! Need to be a bit more settled before I can make 'burial' arrangements; suspect we're more likely to go for cremation.

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff said...

Shelley, I hadn't heard of the Neptune Society and also plan to be cremated, so I just looked it up (

Apparently all they specialize in is cremations...pretty cool...well as cool as a death business can be. :-)

I wish they'd list prices, but you have to request them online.

Good advice!

Duchesse said...

I've heard that old-clothes-and-discard advice but do you really want to be an representative of your country in clothes so old they will be discarded?

I've taken an extra suitcase of unwanted but new condition clothes to give to people; makeup & perfume samples make women ecstatic and are so easy to bring.

Have you heard about green burial? This interests me very much- burial without casket, to simply return to the earth.

Anonymous said...

I usually do the old clothes and discard routine - till I was in Egypt when the (male) maid appeared clutching the bra and t-shirt I had discarded the night before and asked me to write a note saying he could have them so that his supervisor would not think he had stolen it. I assumed that the request was a result of poverty rather than perversion but it still made me feel a bit awkward and after that I collected my old stuff and discarded it in a bin at the airport, carefully tied up in a plastic bag.

Frugal Scholar said...

@lucy--it's folklore with many variants.

@simple--That's a good idea, which I'll share with my son, who may be going to some faraway places.

@Shelley--As another commenter pointed out, Neptune does cremation. The reason it is called Neptune is because the ashes will be sprinkled at sea if the family wants.

@Duchesse--I think these are pants with small stains here and there, some worn spots. No one really looks at anyone anymore...Maybe one nice pair, and two discards?

@alienne--Welcome back! It sounds weird, but I would try to get over my shock and write the note.

BG2.0 said...

I donate my clothes to a charity on the way home. Makes me feel good, lightens the bag, and the sort of old but not shabby can contribute.
When traveling, look for a laundry!