Why Frugal People Pay to Join AARP

I was so excited when I turned 49 1/2! It meant that I could join AARP and get an AARP card! WHY would I be excited about getting older and flash something that isn’t, as one person pointed out to me, “a badge of honor?” Because I think it is! Not only that, but it’s what frugal people do to save money now and in the future. For starters, if you have AT&T for your mobile you save 10% on your bill and 15% on wireless accessories! After factoring my annual membership fee I’m making money right away! More importantly AARP lobbies to keep Social Security and Medicare strong, drug prices low and advocates for many other things that DO affect your wallet. I also get their monthly publications that highlight important things like how to deal with ageism in the workplace.

I know many of you are thinking that you want nothing to do with AARP because it means you’re “getting old.”

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Vintage Recipe: Frugal Portland, Maine Duchess Potatoes

While the world is abuzz about the Duchess of Sussex “stepping back” from her royal duties (seriously, though, I didn’t see that coming and apparently neither did the Queen!) I’ve stepped back in time and from the fancification of Duchess potatoes with this simple, frugal 1915 recipe found inside a Portland, Maine elementary school book. All that is required to make these tasty little puffs are three ingredients plus salt and pepper for seasoning.

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A Bright Bedroom Makeover

Yes, I’ve just completed another thrifty “makeover” for our bedroom! This time I wanted bright colors to help offset the prolonged darkness of the short Maine winter days. I also ended up returning the heavy wool blanket we bought online last year because it turned out to be falsely advertised as being free from mothproofing. The label on the blanket stated otherwise, in another language! Sneaky!! To the merchant’s credit they took it back past the return date once I explained why I “waited” until then. Before I share the specifics of my thrifty purchases for the newest vintage makeover, here are past snapshots:

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Christmas Fairs in the Country

We opted in for out of the way for today’s Christmas fairs and festivals. There are all kinds of events in the greater Portland area and Kennebunkport is having their epic Christmas Prelude, but battling crowds and partaking in parking fiascos are NOT my thing. It was a beautiful morning with a fresh dusting of snow on the trees as we drove out to Bar Mills and then Limerick for fairs inside charming, historic buildings.

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Thanksgiving Dinner in a 1700s House

I just love when I find a hidden gem and that’s exactly what happened for our Thanksgiving dinner. A few weeks ago we decided that we wanted to go out to eat since it’s just the two of us this year. All of the local places serving T-Day dinner were charging between $80 – $90 per person plus tip! Spending over $200 to eat in a trendy or upscale restaurant on Thanksgiving in greater Portland is just no! (Portland was named 2018 Restaurant City of the Year by Bon Appetite.) We’re not into trendy places. We wanted something out of the way in the country that was simple, homey, historic, casual and delicious without fine dining pricing. Then I opened up google maps and did a search for places in “the country”. That’s how I found The Buxton Common, “a community gathering space for families, friends, neighbors and guests serving house smoked, rustic country fare in a revitalized 18th century home.” They were offering a Thanksgiving dinner for $32 per person! Sold!

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Giving Thanks

I had a horrible experience with a new-to-me specialist doctor a little over a month ago who was very rough; I actually yelled out in pain at one point. Based upon little information she told me I likely had cancer of an internal organ (I won’t get into specifics here) and ordered a series of invasive painful tests and biopsies. I immediately made an appointment with someone else to get a second opinion and can say that he is a blessing. Not only does he have decades of experience (which sadly means he will soon be retiring), he is gentle and didn’t have the same impressions as the first doctor. After a couple of painless ultrasounds he determined based upon them and my lack of symptoms that I’m all clear. The one scary growth, something the first doctor overlooked and he found on the first ultrasound actually resolved itself–it’s gone! I was so nervous all month! It was very hard for me to not let it take over my thoughts. My little field trip to Maine Wildlife Park was helpful during this time as was focusing on the beautiful simple things around me. I’m not just thankful for the diagnosis and my new doctor but also the two sonographers who were so incredibly kind, gentle and the second one, hilarious. Who would think that getting an ultrasound in an awkward place could be funny?! 

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Gentle Reminder: Pay Attention, Not Extra

(In case you missed it due to a technical glitch that may have prevented email notifications going out I recently went behind the scenes at Maine Wildlife Park!)

In October I wrote about pickpockets lurking in the billing departments of some phone providers after I discovered Wayne had been overcharged for years. This past month I noticed that my AT&T cell phone bill had gone up about $5 so I logged into my account to see what was up. Turns out I was “given” a “bonus” of 3GB I’ll never use or wanted that comes with an added price of $5. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t a bonus something received vs purchased? My old plan was phased out so I have no choice but to pay an extra $60 plus tax annually. Such is the way of 2019. However, I dug a little deeper in AT&T’s website and found something very disturbing.

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Good Old Yankee Thrift: The Book!

I’m ready to announce that my current book-in-progress is about Yankee Thrift! This summer I created my outline and gathered my research materials which I have been reading and studying. I’ll be doing the actual writing of it this winter. 

This isn’t going to be an academic book but will definitely include historic texts. I’ll share my reflections of living in subsidized housing while attending a wealthy Upper East Side prep school in Manhattan during the excesses of the 1980s before moving to New England to live a simple, frugal life. The lessons learned about Yankee frugality from my time spent living in Vermont and Maine has been nothing short of transformative. I will share those powerful lessons and principles with you in this book.

More details to come in a future post!

My Thrifty Yankee Sock Secret

When you get a hole in one of your socks, do you say “darn it!” and then actually…darn it? I know some of you do! I’ve tried sewing and such but it’s not my thing, especially with mending socks. As a compromise, it occurred to me that in the winter no one sees my socks because I’m wearing boots, so why not wear a mismatched pair?!

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Photographing Wildlife

I looked outside my window at 6:50 a.m. this morning and saw Cider who also saw me. He gets very animated when we make eye contact. It was going to start raining the next hour followed by at least two days of a mix of snow and ice. I knew it might be my only chance to get my Christmas card photo before he went underground until spring!

It can be challenging working with non-traditional models. You can’t make an appointment with them for a photo shoot because it’s on their terms and timeline. They will NOT work for free. You will have to pay the talent in seed currency as you go, no exceptions.

Although I had just dressed and my hair was still wet I ran outside with my vintage Christmas photo props and jar of seeds. I didn’t even pause to put on a coat despite it being 40 degrees.

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