Friday, March 5, 2010

How This Crummy Economy Has Affected My Driving

...and other ways I try to save money.

I'm a responsible person, always have been. The kind who never pays late fees on video rentals or library fees on books; in fact, most of my adult life has been pretty much fee-free. But now that I have very few pennies coming in and I have to watch every single one of them extremely closely, I have become super-duper cautious about most things that could require me to fork out some cash.

1. Such as driving.
Do you know how much a red-light camera ticket costs? Almost 500 bucks! Same with a rolling stop at a stop sign and crossing a pedestrian crosswalk when someone is in it. Major bucks for minor transgressions like parking tickets at expired meters or stopping in red zones or having a back taillight out (how can I know it's out? It's behind me!). Then there's speeding which can cost you serious money. The state of California is out of money and they're bumping up fees for just about everything. I don't even want to tell you how much it costs to get your car out of a tow lot after it's been taken away. {shudder} Well, they're not getting my money! I am being so careful everywhere I go.

Not to mention watching my speed on the freeways - that eats up gas too! And quick starts and stops. Who needs to beat that jerk at the light? Let him go. You can waste your money and the earth's natural resources (hey, I'm being pro-environment too!)

2. And wasting no food.
Nothing in this household gets thrown out. Not a thing. Buy too many bananas? Make banana bread. Extra salmon from dinner? Toss it in a salad. Leftover rice? Fry it up with veggies. We are very good about expiration dates and planning meals so we never throw any food out. And if it's bad when we buy it? Bring it back.

3. Plus we make good use of subscriptions.
We subscribe to 2 very important things that aren't exactly cheap but we get tremendous entertainment value from them: Netflix and LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. As a patron of LACMA, we get free use of the museum whenever we want plus 2 tickets to great exhibits before they open, plus parties where they have delicious desserts and yummy teas and coffee. Oh and cool gifts like tote bags and gorgeous art books. As for Netflix, it was a gift subscription that we use just about every day. We love the instant play for movies and TV.

In fact, we don't pay for TV at all. And we're proud of that. We use hulu and Netflix and our DVDs and anything else we can find on the web.

4. Buying in bulk.
Not food or anything from Costco since we don't have a very big apartment but things like dance classes. I buy 5 or 10 classes at a time and I save serious money. That's important for me because it's one area where I can't skimp. I have to take class regularly in order to teach.

Yeah, this economy has affected me in ways I have no control over. I can't make people take my dance classes, I can't force publishers or the public to buy my books. Sometimes thinking too big picture is depressing. But I can control certain things in my life. It helps. Every little bit helps.