Act 118

Say “Basta” to bottled pasta sauce

It’s easier, faster, yummier and cheaper to make your own pasta sauce – red or white, meat or veggie.

It might be more convenient to spend a few dollars on a jar of sauce but you can make your own with a tiny bit more time and at least you’ll know what’s really in it.

I made an alfredo/carbonara in all of 5 minutes and it probably cost less than a dollar. Plus nothing is wasted because we only made what we needed.

It’s a common refrain on this site – but convenience is costly. So spend the time, save the money and use what you’ve got. Every dollar you don’t spend is money saved for something else.

Buon appetito!

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Act 117

Read the Wizard of Oz.

I’ve always liked Dorothy. Her ruby slippers especially. Her can-do attitude. Her kindness for strangers. Her love of home. What I didn’t know is that the Dorothy character and I might have a little more in common that just those things.

What I didn’t know was that Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was a parable about money and the financial system – the gold standard, specifically. But, come to think of it, I’m surprised I missed that. OZ (the measurement for gold), yellow (gold) brick road, emerald (money) city, wizards, tin men (who need oil), red shoes (debt)? How did I miss that. I suppose it’s yet another example of not paying enough attention to the situation in which I find myself.

But now that I recognize it, I’m not surprised in the least that OZ is not that wonderful. I’ve had occasion to meet good and wicked witches and peek behind the curtain having done some work in that industry. It really is akin to fussy, bumbling small-minded types who randomly press buttons and pull switches to convince us they run the show. But it’s not true. Like Dorothy, the tin man, the scarecrow and the lion, there’s nothing we can’t do for ourselves with the right amount courage, heart, intelligence and love We just need to believe we can.

There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.

Act 116

Ask for happiness.

We ask for so many things in life – things, solutions, short cuts, deals, special treatment – but I’m more convinced than ever that no matter what we’re asking for, what we’re really seeking is happiness.

Find it in your way. Today, I am grateful for the family, the friends and the people in my community who help us find our way to joy.

Thank you. It’s make me happy.

Act 114

Go to a community meeting

If you live in a small town as a do, nary a week goes by that there’s isn’t a community meeting that needs attending to – a board meeting, a meeting meeting, an general meeting, a school meeting. There’s no end to meetings it seems.

Meetings are a great social venue – where you can stay connected with your community and do some good. It keeps you in touch with friends and neighbours and help build important bonds.

Plus, there’s usually great snacks on offer. So it’s cheap and cheerful and time well spent. Debt defying is as much about how you spend your time as your money – so don’t hide in your house because you can’t afford a night out. Put yourself out there, meet new people, do some good and have some fun. It’s worth every minute.

Act 113

File your taxes on time.

I know you know this. Just a friendly reminder. I dread this day too. But payment or refund, by filing on time, you avoid the penalty and there’s really no reason to pay that if you don’t need to.

Act 112

Buy Original Art

It’s a bit sad that I have to distinguish art as original – as opposed to unoriginal – which is sadly what passes as art in most homes – mass produced decorator products sold at major retailers – it’s not art – it’s decor – and as far as decor goes, if it came from Winners or Home Sense or Pier One, you can be sure that only you and several other hundred thousand people have its uniqueness as your own.

Decor is important. It makes our homes our own. Trouble is, we live in a world of imitation. I’m sure you’re not the only one to notice that many of us have the same decor in our homes as other people we know. Why is that?

When I was little, my favourite pass time was spending time with my grandmothers – each as unique as they come. And their homes had marvelous, wonderful unique things with stories all of their own. My grandmaman wrought iron sculpture of the Eiffel Tower she brought home from her trip to Paris. My Gramma’s brass sculpture of a fishing boat from Hong Kong. That was art to me because it told their story in a way nothing else could. If I could go back in time, I’d go to both of those places to take it all in again.

My parents have always been great supporters of the arts and while that might not have made my house the house of choice for us as teens, it certainly made me a happier more appreciative person. I love art too. And our home is graced with lovely, small, modest, unique and original pieces that help tell our stories as much as the stories of the talented artists who created the works.

How is this debt defying, you ask? We’ll, here’s the kicker. Everything we’ve purchased over the years is worth much more than we paid for it. It’s an asset. Not an expense. It has and will keep its value. What’s more, if you buy Canadian art to display at your place of work, it’s a legitimate (and delightful) expense. I wish my printer and roll-y office chair brought me as much joy as my art. Beautiful, original, debt defying art.

Plus, when you buy art, you support local artists, local culture who in turn support your local economy. Spending never looked (or felt) so good.

Act 111

Conserve.

Conservation is nothing new. In fact, it’s pretty old. Way older than Earth Day (which is today).

Somewhere along the line, I think we may have lost our way – but like Hansel and Gretel, we understand the urgency to “kill the cannibalistic witch” that is consumerism – and find our way back to sustainability. At least I hope we do.

There are many ways to conserve, including 50 simple suggestions posted here online. Afterall, everyday is earth day if you really think about it.

Act 109

When in doubt, do without.

Spring is in the air. And with spring comes spring cleaning.

We live in a small house and, over the years, have managed to accumulate too much furniture, too many toys and sigh, too many books. So it’s time for a good clean up and clean out. Excess stuff is also a form of debt. If you don’t need it, move it along – sell it, give it, donate it, recycle it or, worst case, throw it out.

And be thankful for the thrift shop volunteers who’ll take that stuff off your hands. They are really the ones doing us the favour despite many who think that those who give are the generous ones. One day sorting through other people’s giveaways might change your mind.

If you live in a small house, you’ll soon find that you can’t just move one thing without having to move many things and changes to one room invariably lead to changes in other rooms, so pace yourself. A few hours at a time and before you know it, your abode will feel brand new or at least brand new to you.