Frugality 101

Breakfast under the Big Birch by Carl Larsson
Breakfast under the Big Birch

I don’t usually post on Sundays but had to share this article about how families can save money. A couple of the tips are specific to the Chicago suburbs, but most are not, and you’ll find some good info there.

Here’s my favorite part:

Do things your mom used to do. Remember how your mom and her friends sat around the kitchen table drinking coffee, rather than meeting out at a local coffee shop? Or how you’d be forced to bring your lunch to the ballgame or museums? That’s probably why your parents have money in the bank now. One mom suggested buying a bag of Starbucks coffee for $8 and then brewing enough for everyone.

Some of my fondest memories are of sitting around a kitchen table having coffee: with my grandma when I was a kid (yep, Swedes let the kids drink coffee with lots of milk in it), or with the other playgroup moms when I had little ones and we met weekly at each other’s homes. Who says you need money to have fun?

Beware of College, Post #2

Colleges and universities are more than willing to take your money in order to prepare your child for a career in which he probably won’t be able to find a job.

This article made me so sad because I was once a journalism student. While I don’t believe I was as idealistic as some of the students quoted, I enjoyed every bit of my journalism education, and looked forward to a career in journalism. A lousy economy at the time of my graduation ruined that dream for me back then.

Today, these kids are graduating into a lousy economy and a deteriorating journalism scene (note some of the comments after the article from recent journalism grads who can’t find work). The rise of the Internet and the clear bias of American media have resulted in newspapers dropping like flies. Yes, there are far more writing opportunities online than in print, but they pay less, too. It’s much harder to make a living as a journalist now than it was nearly 30 years ago when I graduated during the Carter years.

Yet the professors quoted in the article let the students believe that “it’s all going to be ok” when they surely know better. Gotta keep those paychecks coming in, I guess. (Same reason so many colleges and universities inflate grades these days, but I digress…..)

The moral of this story? Just because a college offers a specific major does not mean your child will be able to find work after obtaining that degree. Help your child make a wise career choice. Check out specific careers and their predicted futures at Most of all, don’t believe the hype of colleges that need to keep a certain number of warm bodies coming through their departments in order to maintain their own employment.

Next up: Many college administrators believe that stopping alcohol and drug abuse is the responsibility of the student, not the college.

Random Thoughts While Going Through Our Storage Unit

I spent a good chunk of last week (Spring Break) going through boxes from our storage unit as we try to pare down our possessions, part of the downsizing exercise we began nearly two years ago when we moved from the five-bedroom house where we raised our kids to a smaller home in another state.

I thought I’d gotten rid of my two big kids’ schoolwork before we moved, but I found more boxes last week, including one full of Peter’s workbooks and notebooks from age 5 on. (Boy, I sure spent a lot on A Beka in the early years of homeschooling!) And I think it’s ok to get rid of all his schoolwork, LOL, seeing how he graduated from college two years ago. I think he proved he knows a few things. But it’s hard letting go of the past. I’m forcing myself to only keep a few notebooks and other papers with his writing.

Even with some of the stuff pitched already, it stunned me to look at all of the books and papers and realize that this was the evidence of what I’ve been doing for the past twenty-some years. We moms are accustomed to having what we produce disappear: folded stacks of laundry and racks of homemade cookies evaporate soon after we produce them. So to see even just a portion of the work we produced over all those years of homeschooling kind of takes my breath away….and makes it that much harder to pitch things. But I was strict with myself, and we overloaded the garbage man last week.

Of course, old schoolwork isn’t all I’m finding in these boxes. I’ve been addicted to newspapers for almost my entire life, and as a result I’m the queen of clippings. Seems like there’s always something interesting in the paper that I need to tear out and save because I might want to read it again sometime. This explains all the clippings stuffed in boxes (along with old magazines I kept meaning to read). Not a good thing years later when you need to go through it all.

I can’t possibly read all of that stuff now, but as I sorted, I kept the articles I just couldn’t resist, and reread them all at night, when I was tired of going through boxes. And I learned something interesting: the articles found in the newspapers and magazines of the 1980s and 1990s are a lot more useful than what you see these days. There were plenty of solid, informational articles, as opposed to the tidal wave of celebrity worship and high-priced decorating ideas seen in recent years. No wonder newspapers are dropping like flies these days.