About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

Cheapskates and Cheap Steaks

I like the word "cheapskate." It's got the snap of a fresh green bean, and it carries a sense of pride when you self disclose, though that's not always the case when you're described by others as cheap.

When my 14-year-old was a little guy he pronounced the word "cheapskate" as "cheap steak," which I like even more. There's nothing that better conveys a sense of cheap than a cheap steak: tough, thin, gristly, mottled in color and flavor. Ironically, Cheap Steak is also the name of an iPhone app. Wyatt says he wants royalties.

I've been enjoying the blog of Northern Cheapskate, as we both live in areas of Minnesota where frugality isn't a choice but a mandate. You don't have the option of pricing a loaf of bread at the Rainbow five minutes from your house, then going down the block and finding a better price at Cub. Go to the intersection in town and there's one gas station, not three. So you learn to shop frugally and strategically. Where to look, when to shop, what to grab and what to pass up. In my neck of the woods, you pay over five bucks for an 18-ounce box of cornflakes at the general store. But a roll of Necco wafers is 99 cents compared to The Vermont Country Store price of $1.69 (not including shipping).

It's hard to talk about the economy in this country because everyone has their own definition of what it means to be frugal or in need. It can mean living on $1,000, ten dollars, or in the hypothetical case of John McCain, living in one house. In 2010, a family of three making $18,310 a year was considered poor, according to U.S. poverty guidelines. Our family made more than that last year. But between that figure and $18,310 are enough shades of need to fill a Crayola box: Pinched, Stretched, Mighty Uncomfortable, World of Hurt.

No matter what baseline figure you're working with, everyone wants to save money. Northern Cheapskate will help you do that. You'll find coupons, giveaways, freebies for the kids, gardening, organizing on a budget. And of course, great ways to cook a cheap steak.

Note: The continuum of need stretches to where many of us can't even see. Social networks are raising awareness. Indy is a homeless single mother who lives with her two kids in a minivan that needs a new transmission. If you can help, donations are being collected through April 11. Thank you. 


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  2. LOL about both your son's "cheap steak" and the thought of John McCain cutting corners by choosing to live in only one of his houses.

    I do have the luxury of comparison shopping but I hate having a whole bunch of different places to go. The energy from all those places in one day would wear me out.

    I am grateful, however, that the cheapest place to buy my son's favorite organic cereal is usually the grocery store less than five minutes away, instead of the natural foods store which requires a 20-minute trip.


  3. Wow, do you have a great way with words! I love it. What a talent.

    Cheap steak is a fabulous image, and I think your kid should get royalties. It's his due, after all.

    I will be thinking of your long lost turkey hen for some time to come. And I'll be worrying too about poor John, who was sadly unsure about how many homes he has. Such a pity. Poor thing.

  4. Hi Jeanine: I guess that's what makes life interesting. If one store had all the best buys, there'd be no choices to make. We have a good organic foods store about 25 miles from home. They often have sales and the people are knowledgeable.

    Paula, I hope to be writing more about poultry, as the laying season begins again. I'm thrilled that you're enjoying what you're reading! Thank you both.


  5. This is a great post, Susan! I can't wait to read more. I wish that frugality was a mandate everywhere.

  6. Thank you so much! I'll have another one soon. This blogging group was a great decision Dani made.


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