Like most people I've had more than a moment or two of silly indulgence thanks to my credit card, and Jeff can shop for days on end. But for the most part, I've always thought of us as fairly frugal people. We don't get carried away with clutching coins, but we don't toss them in the streets either.
I like the reduction in stress that not living outside my means brings me. I live in fear of reverting to my early years of living on Tab, tater tots and Cheerios, or worse, having some prolonged catastrophic bad luck that that will land us living in the Subaru trolling for spare change in public fountains.
This week, I learned that we're not frugal at all: we're just lazy.
1. Yes, we bargain shop for just about everything we buy, but we're still vulnerable to impulse purchases, good food and fine libations.
2. We try to remember to use the coupons that come to us in the mail but we don't scour the Internet sales flyers or find ways to double up or get free stuff. CVS will never have to shell out free stuff to me because I will never keep the receipt to cash in on that silly racket they have going.
3. I will buy overpriced hair care products at Kroger rather than taking the time to drive to a separate store and it was a happy accident of being below the E there one day that led to my discovery of discounts on gas if I used my Kroger card at the Kroger pumps.
But here's what shoved our laziness in my face. Jeff stumbled across the operating instructions for our microwave. It was copyrighted in 1984. The tag line Panasonic was using back then was "Just slightly ahead of our time."
Just for fun, we flipped through the booklet a bit. We learned that the Panasonic ANE0003X80AP will zap your food with a mind-boggling 600 watts of power. Standard today? 1,000 watts or more.
The operating instructions admonish users not to try to make popcorn in this model. You need the 18450 microwave corn popper for that. But there's amazing change on the horizon: "... special microwave popcorn is available in some ares of the country. This popcorn pops in its own package and does not require a microwave corn popper. It may be used in this oven."
Jeff acquired the microwave when his parents remodeled their kitchen. I don't know how long they used it, but he/we've used it for more than 15 years. The machine works just fine. Better, in fact than the dishwasher and refrigerator that came with the house. They're probably half the age of the microwave.
But they all work , see. And as long as they work, I'm not going to have to replace any of 'em. That's frugal, right?
Nope. It's lazy. The devices are probably all leaking more energy than the windows we had replaced last fall. But until they stutter or groan or start spoiling our food, we'll probably keep them around. Imagine the research we'll have to do to find the best reviewed and priced models. We might have to remodel the whole kitchen to get all the new stuff that'll come with the new appliances. We'll have to learn how this century's wattage affects food. Who has the energy for that?!
In other news, we had a great Easter gathering yesterday at Shakamak State Park where my sister Debbie and I would have won the first annual Easter Duck Scavenger Hunt but my nieces cheated. Damn kids.
Despite the drizzle, we had tons of fun. Alison's determined to spend a week with her cousins this summer, and it may be the week after we spend time in Maine that will work out for her. She wants to do that and go back to Flat Rock camp this summer.
"But Alison, that would be two whole weeks without your parents anywhere around you at all," I said.
"Yeah!" she said, dreamily.
While she was concerned that her braces would make this holiday "The worst Easter ever!" she ended up with some hard candy and lollipops she could actually eat. Coupled with two small new animals, her very first wristwatch, some Grandpa cash and payola from the cousins, she managed.
She also found this card for her father. Hilarious on some many levels. Hope your Easter was a good one, too!