Act 205

Take a picture (it does last longer)

I’m in the Maritimes visiting friends and while it’s tempting to pick up lovely souvenirs as a reminder of our visit, I’m trying to resist. When I see something I like, I take a picture instead. This way I have the memories of the places and the things I’ve seen without having to empty my wallet in the process. And if I see something I’d really like to have, I can always order directly from the website and keep my luggage weight in check. Here are a few things I saw today.

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door mat made of fisherman’s rope made in New Brunswick

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colourful buoys

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Pantouffles Acadien (knitted slipper in Acadian colours)

There are some beautiful and innovative crafts and products in the Maritimes. Shame I couldn’t bring them all home but at least I can remember them with pictures.

Bonne vacances!

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Act 204

Be the captain of your own crunch

I’m assured by my best friend that if it’s a quality morning cereal experience you’re looking for, be sure to visit your local bulk food store. Pick your favourites. Grain (quinoa, oats, flax), dried fruit, nuts and seeds, bake for 20 to 30 minutes, add honey or agave syrup, store in mason jar and enjoy. Without developing a spread sheet to determine exact cost, we are comfortable telling you you can expect to save two thirds of what you’d pay your favourite grocer. She’s my best friend, I believe her even if I’ll never eat quinoa.

Act 179

Pitch in for gas.

In the Shuswap, where I live, many families own a boat. And a boat is fun. From May to September that is. But a boat is a year long expense, especially if you financed it.

And people who have boats are very generous in that they invite people who don’t have boats to join them for a day on the lake.

Recognize that boat ownership is an expensive proposition. So pitch in for gas. It’s the right thing to do. Just because you don’t have a boat, doesn’t mean you can recognize the expense of having one. If their expense if your opportunity, pay your fair share. And, while we’re at it, wear a life jacket.

Safe boating!

Act 165

Stop using your credit card. Stop #smallenfreuden.

Such an obvious debt defying act. So obvious in fact, I hadn’t even mentioned it because it goes without saying. But, Visa’s smallenfreuden campaign makes me want to scream this off of the rooftops. To use your VISA to make small purchases is a terrible idea for you as a consumer. To use your VISA to make small purchases is a terrible idea for small businesses. To use your VISA to make small purchases is only a good idea for VISA.

Judging by their marketing campaign – heavy emphasis on social media and hockey tie ins – I’m guessing their target market is young men – late twenties to mid forties, young, sports fan – who have disposal income but aren’t the household budget managers. The household budget managers (ie, wives and girlfriends for the most part) have put the breaks on big household expenses to get on top of the personal debt crisis (reported last week as $27,000 non-mortgage debt per person on average). So they figure a couple of beers, a few things at Canadian Tire, might as well just go on the credit card – “everybody’s doing it” – so VISA says.

Don’t do it. Credit companies have powerful lobbies in Ottawa. The competition bureau has yet to rule on a pending decision on merchant fees according to Dan Kelly of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. The CFIB is leading the campaign to stop VISA on its smallenfreuden campaign. Read more here.

Act 155

Do boys get better credit?

I think they might. Believe or not, our government has done studies on banking biases against women, especially in business. I could have told them that for free.

My husband’s credit is cheaper than mine. Is that fair? Nope. Mind you, there probably aren’t that many guys walking around with an HBC master card, sears card or IKEA card in their wallet. That seems to be our department, ladies.

Yet, the real truth is that women run most households and manage most family budgets. And, as for the real definition of economics, it might surprise you to learn, – are you ready for this – is household management – from the greek word for house and manager. Surprised? Nope. Me neither.

My husband got me my car loan. My husband got us the better rate on a credit card. My husband got a higher limit too. I can hardly get change for a dollar. Why is that? We should be asking. And we deserve to know the answer.

Act 152

Make your own patties

With BBQ season in full swing, it’s tempting to pick up some ready made burgers – meat or veggie – for a quick al fresco dinner.

But the truth is, with a bit of elbow grease you can cut the cost in half by making them yourself.

I  worked a summer at a chip stand in North Bay – burger boot camp I’ll call it – the recipe is open to interpretation – some meat, some binding agent, some bread crumbs, some spice.

I’m trying a new veggie patty recipe I saw on You Gotta Eat here with chick peas and roasted veg. I’ll let you know how I make out – but it’s basically a half a bag of beans, some roasted veg – carrots, garlic and potatoes will do – blended together in the food processor, some spice and they bake for a half hour.

Some spicy mayo, toasted buns (the day old bread you freeze is perfect for this), fresh lettuce and tomoatoes  – and you’re in patty paradise.

Act 138

Be as perennial as the grass

I think a garden is an act of poetry. And I know, from my limited gardening experience that perennials, while they cost more, never let me down. I can always count on boxwood, lavender and anything from the bulb family to share their poetry with me.

Invest in perennials rather than annuals. Annuals might be bright and flowery for a short time – but they fade and the money seems wasted. This is the first year i’ve been able to resist the lure of the gardening store to buy annuals in bloom. I’ll continue to resist and consider a purchase later in the season of a perennial.

And speaking of poetry, just the word perennial reminded me of Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata – a beautiful and time test poem which I’ll share here (thanks wikipedia).

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Act 136

Find a second life for your single sock.

I live in a house with boys – a result of which is finding single socks in most every corner of every room – for some reason.

Anyway, I keep a stash of single socks in my laundry room and when I’m quite convinced they are destined to be single forever, I repurpose them as household rags (way better quality than a J-cloth for example) or fabric softener sheets (just a few drops of liquid fabric softener and a sock will replace expensive dryer sheets).

It’s not a big thing – but little things matter and every bit counts. That’s the whole point behind defying your debt.

Act 122

Learn the power of surprise

I don’t particularly like surprises but I do love the power of surprise. It’s because so much of life is tied into expectations and if you can find a way to do the unexpected you can make ordinary things seem extraordinary.

For months, I’ve been beating off the pleas of my children to please please please go thru the drive thru – then suddenly, it stopped. As if they realized that these debt defying acts are indeed better options for us than a double double or a super sized meal.

So today, on the way to a family birthday party, I randomly stopped for ice cream. No begging, no pleading – just a surprise stop to enjoy a little something together. When appreciation replaces expectation, the ice cream tastes better.

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.