Pay attention. I am not kidding. Really.

Category: Pay attention to your money.

A Sucker Born Every Minute

Rome Piazza della Repubblica, Fountain of the Naiads, Nymph of the Oceans

The scene of the crime: the Fountain of the Naiads, Piazza della Repubblica, Rome

Warning: this is another Hubby story (related with his permission, BTW) but different. This time, I throw myself under the bus, as well. As I’ve said previously, “I don’t make this stuff up; I just report it.” I couldn’t possibly make this stuff up, even if I thought and thought for weeks and weeks. And this one, dear reader, will top every other Hubby story I’ve ever told you and the ones about myself that I have not told you. Pay attention: you’re about to be astonished.

On a 2017 trip to Rome, I left Hubby at the Piazza della Repubblica Fountain of the Naiade Nymphs (which caused quite a stir when it was installed in 1901). It’s situated in the middle of a huge roundabout, and he was perched on the side of the fountain’s perimeter, dangerously near the inner lane’s traffic. I left him painting the Nymph of the Oceans while I took off to check out shops under classy colonnades and the ruined Baths of Diocletian, all of which surround the fountain and roundabout. 

Now I can see how you might think that he could be left to paint and not get into too much trouble but P.T. Barnum was right, so you, my friend, would be wrong. While I was off learning fascinating details about Diocletian’s pile, a car stopped right beside Hubby. Did I mention this was a huge roundabout? It’s goofy to stop in the middle of traffic in a large roundabout, especially in Rome – unless, of course, there’s something to be gained.

Out jumps a guy who says to Hubby, “You look familiar.” Now, is that not the OLDEST line in the book? Hubby, who’d been deep into his painting, thought to himself that this guy did look an awful lot like a Croatian friend we visited a few years ago and asked, “Have you ever lived in Croatia?” And guess what? He had! Next: “Do you know ______ [our Croatian friend’s name]?” AND HE DID! Now I ask you, what are the odds?

Well! By now the guy considered Hubby his new BFF. What do you do for BFFs? You give them deals, of course. From there, the whole conversation disintegrated into the classic scam, except this hustler had tweaked the well-known-to-everyone-but-Hubby “Salesman in Distress” schtick. You see, bless his little heart, he’d just finished exhibiting at a high-end fashion show and needed to offload some of the high-fashion jackets he’d shown . . . to get euros . . . to buy gas . . . to get himself . . . back to his little wifey . . . in Milan. AND HUBBY BELIEVED IT. (Let me repeat. I do not make this stuff up. I just report it.)

When this bozo offered to sell him three, probably stolen, “leather” jackets in unknown sizes for only €50, right away Hubby recognized this was a deal from his new BFF he could not possibly pass up. Hubby had been busy as a fine artist, and this guy was efficiently busy being another kind of artist – a scam artist. It took only five minutes for the scam artist to take €50 off the distracted fine artist.

Deep into his painting, Hubby wasn’t paying attention to where he was: Rome. Ever since the first century, when Roman poet Tibullus invented that syrupy marketing tag line, The Eternal City, romantics have called it by that name. We 21st-century cynics more accurately call it The City of Pickpockets and Scam Artists.

When I came back from my sightseeing, Hubby came bounding toward me with a large white shopping bag AND that smiley, cheesy look that I know so well. It was his I’ve-just done-something-stupid-but-I’ll-do-my-best-to-convince-you-otherwise look that I knew from 50 years of experience I would not find the least bit amusing. Sure enough, I didn’t. I could NOT believe what I was hearing. I still can’t. I sat on the edge of that fountain trout-mouthed for a good ten minutes staring at this man’s head and thinking, how is it possible to get a complete lobotomy in only an hour and fifteen minutes? (That seemed to be the only logical conclusion at the time.)

I had my nose out of joint for almost an hour, until Hubby gently reminded me that when I get taken, it’s always for more money. A LOT more money. (I don’t mess about with a piddly little €50 ($62 USD).

Hubby turns the tables
with pay-attention lessons
from my past.

He recalled the time a friend of his asked to practice her spiel for selling Rainbow vacuum cleaners (the several-hundred-dollars kind) on me. He reminded me that after listening to her “practice” spiel, I said I’d take one. It’s only fair to mention that at the time, we had a rule: we were not to buy anything over $100 without consulting each other. Oops.

Warming up to his topic, he dredged up a later episode. A friend at church had a daughter working her way through college who needed to practice her spiel to sell Cutco knives. Same old story. After she finished, I said I’d take a set. A few hundred dollars later, I’d conveniently ignored our rule, and we were the proud owners of the finest kitchen knifery money could buy. Oops. Again. As lame justification, I would like to point out that we’re still using all of them 20 years later – and probably will till they roll us into the Alzheimer’s Unit. Yes, they’re that good. For what they cost, they very well should be.

Hubby’s coup de grâce was yet to come, and I very much deserved it because by this point, I should’ve been old enough to know better. He reminded me of a much more recent foray in which my lust for a brand new Prius that we might win led us down the primrose path into a “seminar” by a vacation package company. And just for us, just that day, we could have their very valuable services for a real steal – half off, which was WAY, WAY, WAY more hundreds than even the Rainbow. I talked myself into believing this was just what we needed to plan economical, international trips and then used Eve’s apple trick on a skeptical Hubby. Not till long after we’d signed on the dotted line did I discover they have no bargains on vacation deals we would want.

Having been reminded of these embarrassing low points in my marketing prowess and will power, I got my nose back into joint and we went on, €50 poorer but more educated and astutely aware that we were in the City of Pickpockets and Scam Artists. On the way back to our hotel, Hubby said no four times to street hawkers. FOUR. He passed up selfie sticks, carved wooden plates from Syria, fake Rolex watches, and African thread bracelets.

The pay-attention points of this story? Oh, my. So many and so little time. Here you go.

Our Sucker-Born-Every-Minute,
Pay-Attention Points

(in no particular order)

  • A sucker is born every minute, but not all of them stay suckers. Some of us do, though. Though my math’s always dodgy, my calculations say Hubby has a few thousand dollars to blow through before he catches up to my unenviable Sucker Status.
  • Educate yourself thoroughly before your next trip. If we’d read not just Rick Steves’ Italy and Rome books, but also his web page (below) on this subject Hubby, even as distracted as he was, would’ve begun laughing at the first words from the “salesman’s” mouth. 
red box with white text from Rick Steves'

Oh, man, Rick Steves and Troops, you’re spot on, as usual.

  

  • Never make impulsive buying decisions. Never. Never. NEVER! That’s a pay-attention point we both need to work on until we die, as we seem to be slow learners.
  • All education costs something. You pay to take classes in anything you can name: for college degrees, continuing education classes in your profession, classes in your new hobby, classes on how to sweat at the gym. And, yes, you “pay” when you take a Sucker Class like ours.
  • When something sounds too good to be true, IT IS. This is an ancient bit of advice – and one I regularly harp on – which doesn’t make it any less difficult for me to grasp, as you’ve just read.
  • When you do something stupid, just own up and get it over with. Trying to paint it as something smart will only annoy your significant other. (Trust me on this one.) Laugh at your foibles and encourage others to laugh, as well, but DO NOT try to justify them.
red box with white text:

Hubby’s take on that old “laughs last” maxim – and he should know.

© 2018, Teresa Bennett

Our $12 Chair “Deal”

photo of channel-back, Rococo Revival chair

Deal or not? Read on, then you decide.

When you saw those quotes around deal, you knew something was amiss, didn’t you? That’s because you’ve already learned that – usually – when something looks like a “deal,” it probably isn’t. Nevertheless, most of us still succumb to that alluring, siren call of the word, deal.

Why would I be willing to tell an embarrassing story about our tumble into The Deal Pit? Because there are always plenty of pay-attention lessons to be learned from watching others fall headlong into The Deal Pit, that’s why. Since this blog is all about you, this is for you, dear reader. It’s too late for us.

(FYI: There’ll be a quiz at the end to see if you found all the pay-attention lessons.)

The Sad Seating Saga

Hubby bought our $12 chair at a thrift store where he volunteers. Risky business, that. It means he sees EVERYTHING that comes in the back door and, sometimes, just can’t resist, as in this case.

It was Rococo Revival from the very early 1900s, covered in dirty (and I do mean dirty) mauve upholstery (that 1990s, sickly, grayish-pink concoction). Hubby liked how he could really sink into it, with its curved back and cushy seat. Visions of himself reading a book while cozied up in it on a cold winter’s night danced through his head.

He made a convincing argument over the phone. But when I saw it, I realized (since I’m the person who deals with the upholsterer in our fam) that I was viewing a not-so-cleverly-disguised Money Pit. I explained it would take a small fortune to upholster it.

“Nah, it won’t take that much. Besides, we’ve been looking for a chair to go with our French Rococo couch for 42 years. This is as close as we’ll ever get,” said he. I had to agree. We had looked for 42 years, it did go nicely with our antique couch, and I did like the lines of the chair.

Get the picture? We’d just made an unspoken pact to pitch ALL reason overboard, as it would just prove a heavy encumbrance from this point on. (We tried to haul it back on-board from time to time, but never very successfully, as you’ll see.)

The Process

We took the chair to our upholsterer and came back with a stack of fabric samples. We chose one that would blend with our other upholstery and was about as cheap as we could comfortably choose (in fabric, as in most everything else, you get what you pay for), and returned the samples.

While we were there in her shop, she opened the seat cushion to show us the disintegrating foam. That would account for how “cushy” Hubby thought it felt, wouldn’t it? We chose new foam.

She showed us the tatty wrapping and cording she’d uncovered. We chose new Dacron wrapping and cording.

She showed us the webbing that was coming loose. We chose new webbing.

She showed us where the springs had come untied. We agreed to a re-tying fee.

She gave us the estimate. We choked. We plunked down our deposit.

A little later, she called. “You’ll need to do something to your chair before I upholster it. The frame’s broken in three places.” Hmm. That might account for the “cozy, sinking in” feeling Hubby got, don’t you think?

By now, we were in too deep to point fingers. She’d already purchased our fabric. We’d already paid our deposit. But that didn’t keep us from having many discussions about what was growing into THE Chair. In the end, Hubby gulped, retrieved THE Chair, spent a couple of weeks crafting special repair pieces and gluing them into place, and returned it to the upholsterer.

We picked up THE Chair a little later, and finished paying our $909.30 bill. Let’s see. Add that to the $12, and we’d just paid $921.30 for ONE chair.

WHY?

Now why would we, the epitome of Scottish frugality, be willing to plunk down $921 for ONE chair? I’m aware that plenty of you, my fair readers, pay this kind of money for furniture, but we do not. This was a real stretch. Did we abandon our principles? Is there a pay-attention part to our sad saga?

Of course! This saga is fairly teeming with pay-attention points – and none of them sad – for you, since you didn’t pay the $921!

The Promised Quiz

1. What does looking have to do with this story?
This is an easy one: keep looking and eventually, you’ll find what you’re looking for. It’s all about paying attention and keeping your eyes open. (See my previous post about your reticular activating system.)

Our answer? Forty-two years of looking is an awfully long time to look for something. Having found it, we should cough up the moolah and stop looking.

2. What does this story teach about the word deal?
Just hearing the term should send shivers up and down one’s spine. Seldom have I met a deal which didn’t turn into way more of something (money, time, energy, emotion) than I was expecting. When you learn the full cost of the deal, though, don’t throw it out automatically. Decide if it fits with what you’ve been trying to do or looking for. In other words, is it reasonable for YOU? It may not be a screaming deal, but is it reasonable?

Our answer? While most definitely not a deal by our standards, we have a knockout chair for our $921. The price charged by our excellent upholsterer was reasonable. Could we buy similar quality and style in a furniture store? Absolutely not. Okay then, it was as good a deal as we were ever likely to find for what we wanted. THE Chair was living up to its name.

3. Where does homework come into the equation?
It’s the very first thing you do, you know that! And you keep doing your homework until you’re satisfied you know what you need to know to make an informed decision.

Our answer? We’d looked for 42 years for inexpensive seating to go with our French Rococo couch, so we knew we couldn’t find a cheap chair. When you’ve done 42 years of homework, you know you’re paying a fair price. Heck, it was the only chair we’d found that even remotely resembled our 250 year-old couch!

4. Should quality be considered?
Say what you will about the desirability of cheap, disposable furniture, there’s something to be said for sinking into quality and feasting your eyes on it day after day. Quality lets you make a buying decision and not have to think about replacing that item for a very long time. 

Our answer? Quality wins, hands down. We’ve experienced quality upholstery on quality furniture and not-so-quality upholstery on not-so-quality furniture. Quality wears like iron and looks good its entire lifetime. Not-so-quality stuff? Not so much.

5. When does someone have to step up and be the voice of reason?
Short answer: always.

If this scenario had happened earlier in our marriage, one – or both of us – would’ve said, “Are we nuts? Why are we even discussing this? The answer is an emphatic NO!” Spending close to a $1000 on one chair would not have been reasonable for us. Your circumstances AT THE TIME – not your friends’ or your parents’ or your co-workers’ – tell you what’s reasonable (as long as you’re willing to be reasonable).

Our answer? It was reasonable for this time of our lives, though we had many discussions, trust me, about THE Chair. Seldom has an item entered our home shrouded in as much angst as THE Chair. But in the end, we agreed; it was the right time for this purchase.

6. Can you find a workaround for a “deal” that turns out not to be a deal?
This is the ubiquitous trick question that must be part of every quiz. It’s a trick because I haven’t given you a single clue.

Our answer? Of course! There’s almost always a workaround. Some would call ours pure rationalization. But, as we’d successfully hauled Reason back on-board enough to use her at least a little, we much prefer to call it a “reasonable workaround.” We simply made THE Chair:

  • our upcoming anniversary gift,
  • Hubby’s birthday gift,
  • our Valentine’s gift to each other,
  • our St. Patrick’s gift to each other,
  • our Independence Day gift to each other,
  • my birthday gift,
  • our Friendship Day gift to each other,
  • our Halloween gift to each other, and
  • our Thanksgiving gift to each other

for TWO YEARS.

Problem solved. No worrying about what to buy each other for the next two years. No buying little tchotchkes, just to have something to give on a special day. See how this works? We both got what we’d wanted for a long time and didn’t get a bunch of unwanted tchotchkes.

So how about your deals? Do you have one that comes even close to ours? Tell it! Leave a comment, why don’t you?

©2015, Teresa Bennett

red box with white text: “Knowing when an item will provide you with years of use or enjoyment and is, therefore, worth its purchase price – THAT is a skill worth cultivating.” – Teresa Bennett

Apparently, no sage has said this, so I said it!

Getting Over Functional Fixedness

photo of pickup cab converted to an elevated deer hunting stand on wheels

“Bubba” clearly has no functional-fixedness.

Is functional fixedness a familiar term to you? I’ll bet not. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, and it sounds kinda geeky, doesn’t it? I first heard about this functional fixedness concept over 35 years ago. Labeled object fixedness then, I learned about it on a PBS children’s science program, no less.

I still remember the city-block-sized light bulb that came on in my head: Whoa, I’ve got to stop thinking like this! And ever since, I’ve tried very hard to practice the opposite of functional fixedness. I do this mostly in very tangible, material ways, but also in more intangible, ethereal ways.

Functional fixedness means
just what it sounds like it means:

fixing something in our minds as functioning only in one way or for one purpose – the one which the maker intended. Getting over functional fixedness simply means redefining anything’s intended use. Stated like this, I’m quite sure you’re thinking, I already know this. But you’d be surprised how we all, even the very creative amongst us, get caught in this narrow, functional-fixedness mindset sometimes.

Real-life examples
run circles around definitions.

If you’re a visual learner, visit a well designed, upscale, antique store to see creative examples of how the experts get over functional fixedness. No time for that? Visit etsy.com or a similar site, instead. Observe how its Repurposing Mavens have taken an item, let’s say a heavy metal pair of ice tongs (manufactured for ice men to deliver blocks of ice for 1920s and ’30s household ice boxes), and turned it into something else – a paper towel holder, for example. Or maybe you’ll see just the metal part of an old garden rake, hung on a wall, and repurposed as a hat-and-coat rack, wineglass rack, kitchen utensils rack, or necklace holder. These are prime examples of getting over functional fixedness.

photo of metal rake head holding necklaces

photo of metal head of old rake holding kitchen utensils

These rakes won’t see soil again!

Junk stores, thrift stores, charity shops, second-hand shops (and most likely, your grandparents’ garage!) are awash in these very items – the kind found in trendy, up-market stores that have been manufactured to look like these old items and marketed to function as the very items I’ve listed above. When I first started practicing the opposite of functional fixedness, there was no etsy.com or any other similarly cool site. I had to hack out new ideas all by my lonesome. If you’re a wannabe Repurposing Maven today, lucky you: you have all kinds of websites to help you overcome functional fixedness.

Here are some
no-functional-fixedness examples
that have warmed my heart.

Let’s start with our opening photo of a Bubba deer hunting stand made from a pickup cab, elevated – and on wheels, no less. Those West Virginia boys don’t miss much, do they? And they obviously have a few tricks to teach the rest of us about getting over functional fixedness. Oh my, do they ever.

My own examples are a good deal, well, a good deal less “interesting.” I could use other words (silliness-on-stilts comes to mind), but I’ll be tactful, for once.)

We used to have a beautiful oak cabinet in our bedroom that held sweaters and socks, but it began life as a Victrola cabinet. You know – thick, chunky, 3/8-inch-thick phonograph records played on a unit which was hand cranked? At one time, our cabinet contained the guts for playing records in its top and a bottom section for storing records. Long before it was gifted to us by some garage-cleaning friends, someone had removed all the phonograph guts and the vertical dividers for records. Technically, it was still a Victrola cabinet, but we used it for clothes storage.

On our previous home’s breezeway, I once had a display of rather clunky, lidded, hinged boxes that were delivered to my father in the 1950s and 1960s, filled with guns that were broken down and packed in grease. With them I’d stacked old wooden drawers, salvaged in the 1960s from a hardware store opened in the mid-1800s. As I had them displayed, they looked as if they were all of a piece, even though they were only seven old drawers and packing crates placed on end or sideways to hold gardening books and supplies. They were no longer a motley collection of crates and drawers; they’d been repurposed into a single storage unit. (Not as colorful as Bubba’s deer stand, but every bit as practical and useful.)

A friend of ours was recently paying attention on Craigslist when she snagged a printer’s table from the mid-1800s, complete with its original three-inch-thick marble top and vertical slots below the table top for printers trays. Since she’s no printer (and printers haven’t used the antiquated technology which necessitated this table for a very long time), she’s repurposing it into a seriously sturdy foyer table that can withstand any amount of abuse from a household of teenagers.

Proud of yourself, aren’t you?

You’ve already, though perhaps unconsciously, begun your own process of overcoming functional fixedness and repurposing objects, haven’t you? In fact, we’re all probably way better at this than our grandparents or great-grandparents, possibly because we get more practice. Technology is changing our lives faster than our ancestors could’ve possibly imagined.

Things are outliving
their intended purposes
right before our eyes –
almost monthly.

Certainly yearly. Pay attention: now that your music lives in cyberspace and is accessed by your smartphone, iPod, etc., and you’ve hauled your CD collection to the thrift store, what will you do with that pricey, cherry wood box that once held your favorite CDs? If you find yourself relying more and more on the ether version of movies and shows, what will you do with that box of drawers housing your DVD collection (after you also cart them to the thrift store)?

And that nifty little piece of furniture – the one in your parents’ family room – complete with nicely paneled doors that was manufactured to store VHS tapes? Do you suppose they’ll ask you if you want it, since they’ve finally retired the VCR? And what do you suppose you could store in it, if not VHS tapes? Too shallow for books. Too narrow for the sections of your fly rod, so no-go on the fishing equipment. Hmm. Not to worry. You’ll think of something.

And that’s the point.
If you’re PAYING ATTENTION…

you’ll find that for almost every item originally created for a specific purpose, which it no longer needs to fill, you can think of a way to repurpose or reinvent it to serve another purpose. And as you can see, it’s easy. Actually, it’s a hoot to see what your clever noggin can devise. (I’ll just bet those West Virginia boys had a rip-roaring time converting their pickup to a deer stand.) The quirkier and more specialized the device, the more creative your solution will have to be. 

Next up: Pass it on: share your skills! (If you’re the queen of Repurposing Mavens, that’s a skill others would love for you to share.) 

©2015, Teresa Bennett

red box with white text: "I don't think outside the box; I think of what I can DO with the box." – Anonymous

My artist-husband’s response: “There’s a box?”

Resource Misconceptions

photo of dump truck at landfill

The I-never-have-enough lifestyle produces this.

Do you ever look around and ask yourself why there’s such a great big ole disconnect between what we know and how we act? Disconcerting, isn’t it, especially when – ick – you realize you’re part of it?

Here’s one example of that disconnect I’d like to harp on, and I’m certain you’ve already thought of it. We act as if we think our world’s natural resources are limitless but we never think we, personally, have enough of them.

Resource Misconception #1
We have PLENTY of natural resources.
They’re limitless.

We act as if we believe this, even though reams of research and talking heads tell us otherwise. We here in the U.S. are particularly myopic and greedy, accounting for a minuscule five percent of the world’s population but using a whopping 24 percent of its resources. We know better, but we’ve assumed the fingers-in-the-ears, hands-over-the-eyes stance. La, la, la, la; not listening, not listening.

Maybe it’s because we live in such a large country that’s bountifully blessed with natural resources. (Those of us out here in the West look around and ask, “What’s the problem? We’ve got plenty more to use up!”)

Maybe it’s our inherited national psyche resulting from the fact that our country is one of the few in the world purposefully settled

  • en masse
  • over a relatively short period of time
  • by people who were on a very serious quest for a better life.

From the beginning of our nation’s history, we’ve looked around with covetous eyes, seen all these delectable resources, and figured they were ours to take and use any way we pleased. Shucks, there were so many we’d never use them up. Bad news: we’re using them up but then, you already knew that.

So, when we’re paying attention and being honest with ourselves, we know the world’s resources are limited. Now we come to our second misconception.

Resource Misconception #2:
“I don’t have plenty of resources.
In fact, I never have enough.”

What a difference, eh? We act as if we believe our world will provide plenty of everything necessary and unnecessary for human life, on the one hand. On the other hand, we’re constantly and consistently grabbing whatever we can because, after all, we don’t believe we personally have plenty. We don’t have enough! We figure we:

  • don’t have a large enough home and need to “move up.”
  • need another _____ with four wheels.
  • really deserve to ditch the five-year-old TV and buy a newer, bigger, techi-er one.
  • have waited long enough to get that slick smartphone that “everyone else already has.”

Now let me say right now, I don’t know anyone in middle-class America who’s willing to say “I don’t have enough” aloud and in public. I’m not sure I know anyone who would say this privately to herself. It’s just so pitiful, and plenty of us would rather have our tongues cut out than sound pitiful – even to ourselves. But though we don’t verbalize it, I know this is a very real resource misconception because most of us ACT this way.

Yikes, this kind of cockeyed thinking makes me crazy!

Especially when, if I just pay attention to my life, I can clearly see mounds and mounds of resources – all mine and already paid for in time, money, and energy. Things like:

  • a kitchen full of utensils, making meal prep a no-brainer
  • a block-size grocery store a mile away, filled with all the raw ingredients for the above, and the money to buy that food
  • a closet full of clothes, all appropriate for what I need to do and, for now, all fitting
  • a closet floor full of shoes, ditto above
  • a garage filled with two cars
  • a workshop area with every tool we could possibly need (and a bunch we don’t need!)
  • a house full of furniture and furnishings

And then there are the less tangible resources most of us also possess:

  • a community of friends and family who provide all kinds of support on an as-needed basis
  • carefully nurtured good health and good healthcare
  • inherent talents, as natural as breathing, to be used on the job or simply to benefit family and friends
  • cultivated abilities, e.g. repairing a bathroom stool; wiping every bit and byte of ID-sensitive files off a hard drive; taking portrait-studio-worthy photos, etc.
  • expertise acquired from six years of very expensive university studies
  • emotional insights acquired from life’s painful events (Yes, they’re resources; they’re the “tools” we use to help others going through similar situations.)
  • good enough health to work and earn money
  • sturdy legs to walk anywhere
  • eyes to see all the beauty around you and let it sink into your soul
  • a quick mind that allows you to catch on to your manager’s latest ideas quicker than anyone else at the table (always an endearing trait to those above us)

Here’s the irony in this sad saga. We’re not paying attention to the fact that we do indeed have plenty of resources of every imaginable kind, and so we tend to use up a disproportionate amount of the world’s diminishing and not-so-plentiful resources. We grab more and more because, pitiful souls that we are, we “don’t have enough.”

Make a list
of your own personal resources.

Pay attention to it. Take it to the next step: revel in it. Post it somewhere prominent where you can’t miss it. Make it a habit to review it daily. Realize you have enough, and give the earth’s not-so-plentiful resources a much-deserved break!

Meanwhile, let’s delve deeper into this topic of resources with this post on functional fixedness. (It’ll be fun, unlike many of my previous posts. 😀)

©2015, Teresa Bennett

red box with white text: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” – Gen. 2:15, NIV Bible

Translation: TAKE CARE OF resources.

red box with white text of Luke 12:25: ". . .life does not consist in an abundance of possessions."

The I-never-have-enough lifestyle won’t work.

Decision Making, Part 3

photo of almost completely used toothpaste tube

“It’s almost empty. Pitch it, for Pete’s sake.”

Once you start reading it, you may wonder why this post’s topic wasn’t part of Living Well, Part 3, because it sort of fits under the umbrella of little decisions that most of us think don’t matter. But then again, it takes off in a completely new direction. Since it isn’t an exact fit, it stands alone as Decicision Making, Part 3. (Goes to show you get special treatment when you don’t fit anywhere else.)

Here’s the pay-attention tip
right up front:
use what you pay for.

Since this is a fairly straightforward and logical statement, you’d think we’d all grasp this concept. Instead, it seems a devilishly slippery one for our society – at least today’s American society. Our forebears living before the Industrial Revolution got it; no one had to explain this concept to them. We, it would appear, are living on another planet.

FYI: Bill Bryson’s lengthily titled Made In America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States is a delightful read with an added bonus that directly applies to our use-it-up concept. He describes how our society functioned during pre- and post-Industrial-Revolution times, succinctly illustrating why people didn’t throw away any resource they had paid for with time or money, prior to the Industrial Revolution.

Unlike our pre-Industrial-Revolution ancestors, though, we have an abundance of everything. In fact, we have too much of everything. “Not quite. We don’t have an abundance of money,” you say? What a surprise. We have houses and apartments stuffed to the rafters, but not enough money. Do you suppose there’s a connection?

But, I digress. I want to stick like glue to this use-it-all concept. Let’s get started by using some REALLY little examples. Promise me you’ll stay with me to the end. Roll your eyes if you must and if it makes you feel more hip, but just stay with me. Okay?

First, a little reminder
of what I – and you – pay for.

I pay for the WHOLE tube of toothpaste – the part that squirts right out of the tube and the two-weeks’ worth that won’t squirt out, leading me to pitch it into the trash. Colgate doesn’t say, “Aw shucks, we’ll just give you that last bit that we’ve made almost impossible to get out. It’s on the house.” I’m quite certain no one at any level of Colgate-Palmolive’s vast management tiers has said that.

That last quarter cup in the slimy-sided mayonnaise jar? I paid for it. When I throw it in the trash, I throw away food (make that a food product) I’ve paid for. (I’m also dooming yet another jar to the dump instead of the recycle bin.) Kraft didn’t throw in a little extra “at no additional charge”; they charged me for every bit of product – plus the jar, label, and lid. Businesses don’t absorb these costs; they pass them on to us.

Oh, pleeeease. Using up the last little bit of toothpaste?? That can’t make a difference,” you say?

Of course not!
But that’s not the point.

Scraping out every smidgen of the mayo won’t make a difference either. Neither will sloshing water around in the shampoo bottle or laundry detergent jug till not one bubble comes out. Neither will rinsing out the ketchup bottle with water and throwing the resulting goop into your home-made soup. None of these little habits make a difference – on their own. They allow you to stretch toothpaste, shampoo, mayo, detergent, ketchup for just a few more days or weeks, and that’s all.

This simple idea that if we pay for something, we should use it – all of it – involves, for the most part, making little decisions. Now here’s where we come full circle to Living Well, Part 2: THEY ADD UP. When we apply the use-it-all principle to all our buying decisions, the effects begin to add up. Adding this use-it-up habit to your lifestyle results in collective, very real savings. And that, as you know, is what helps out the old bottom line.

The reverse is also true.

The mindset prompting the mayo’s premature death in the landfill also prompts you to throw away plenty of other resources you paid for, and that doesn’t help the old bottom line. I don’t have to tell you how important the bottom line is; sitting down to a stack of bills every month has already taught you that. But there’s one more reason that use-it-up habits are worth incorporating into your mindset.

Quick. What’s the number one cause of marital problems, according to the majority of marriage counselors? Right. Money. Not too much of it, as a rule; the problem is that one or both partners are pretending they have too much of it. Okay, so we have a rampant cash flow problem, along with an astronomical divorce rate, in “the richest country in the world.” How did that happen?

One answer:
we throw away
an awful lot of stuff
we pay for.

(We also buy boatloads of stuff we definitely don’t need, but I’ve already covered that (sort of) in Saying “No” – Practice, Practice, Practice and Just because we can doesn’t mean we should, Part 3.)

Not many small- to mid-sized businesses can stay in business operating on the fiscal principle that they’ll just throw out

  • that last batch of plastic,
  • that last dozen boxes of fan belts,
  • that last five bolts of upholstery fabric,
  • that last….

You get the picture. But husbands and wives (CEOs of household “businesses”) try to do it all the time – and set themselves up for fiscal and marital failure.

I may as well come clean.
Several years ago,
I was not paying attention.

I was already sloshing water around in the ketchup, mayonnaise, shampoo, and detergent bottles; it was the rinsing required by our city’s recycling policy. But then, I was pouring all that goop I’d paid for down the drain. Are you doing the same thing? Well, then. Why not use the product instead of throwing it away? I was already halfway there to developing the use-it-up habit, and so are you.

Pay attention to your own use-it-up habits – or lack of. Try this concept for a while. See if this use-it-up habit doesn’t make sense. If you agree it does, make it your own.

Then look for a mate who either already knows and uses this concept – or “gets it” when you tell him. You’ll be doing yourself a huge favor.

Already married? Try – do try – to get on the same page. Decide you’re both willing to adopt new use-it-up habits and whatever else it takes to ensure a profitable bottom line for Mr. and Mrs. Joe Smith & Associates.

As you might have guessed, for a very long time now my husband and I have practiced habits that were common before the Industrial Revolution and even during the Great Depression. We were doing all this well before frugality became the new chic way of living after the Great Recession. But even now, even with a growing number of our society regarding frugality as du jour, our use-it-up habits mark us as freaks to a great many of our peers. They roll their eyes and say “Oh, pleeease.”

Don’t care. Know why? Because it makes a difference in our bottom line, and we’re always tickled about that. Others’ labeling us as freaks? Of no consequence.

Pay attention: use ALL of the resources you pay for.

Next up: my ever-so-humble take on how our misconceptions about resources get us into sooooo much trouble.

©2015, Teresa Bennett

red box with white text: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” – Anonymous

A Yankee gem from an old German (?) proverb

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. (Part 3)

photo of young woman and a desk full of bills

Probably not enough Should I? questions.

Can, Should, &
“Oh well, you only live once.”

Nowhere is this trend of doing what we can – just because we can – of greater concern to me than in the way we spend money. As you’ve noticed in previous blog posts, I think a great many of my compatriots have checked their brains at the door when it comes to making appropriate decisions about spending money.

Before making any buying decisions, ask Should I? And do try to be honest with yourself when you formulate your answer. You well know you’re playing head games with yourself if you quickly answer with a head full of rationalizations, especially if you’ve been doing a whole lot of everything, just because you can.

When I find myself playing this head game, I ask more questions. Why right now? Why should I buy this very minute? The answer almost always is, I don’t have to. Ah. A little breathing time, a little thinking time, so that my second answer to the Should I? question has a slightly better chance for a little more honesty. Sometimes not. If you’re like me, you may have to ask the Should I? question five or six times before Ms. Honesty shows her face.

Not asking and honestly answering the Should I? question means getting yourself in hot water with:

  • a spouse,
  • parents,
  • credit card companies,
  • your bank,
  • adult children who may have to bail you out,
  • and a host of others.

Need I point out here that getting into hot water is not exactly greasing the wheels of our relationships? Okay. Just wanted to be sure.

I could literally fill a book with more examples of people doing really stupid stuff – just because they can. So could you. In fact, maybe you should. Okay, not a book’s worth; a page might suffice. Key a whole page of things others do – just because they can – that irritate the heck out of you. And then make a note to yourself not to do those things yourself. You can’t stop there, though.

Here’s the pay-attention advice
you knew was coming.

There are boatloads of irritating scenarios you won’t think of. Here’s my humble and simple remedy: repeat the maxim just because I can doesn’t mean I should – over and over this week and next week and the week after. Make it an ingrained and instinctual habit before you:

  • dress for an occasion,
  • answer that vibrating cell,
  • slide your credit card,
  • open your wallet
  • speak, or
  • make a decision about anything.

Analytical types like to call it “intentional living.” Regardless of what you call it, adopting the habit of making conscious, thoughtful, appropriate decisions about can and should will endear you to others, continually greasing the wheels of your relationships and making your life far less stressful. It’s mind-magic that leads to relationship-magic.

Whew, this series could easily turn into another Russian-doll set of blog posts like the Odd Series. Really: I could go on till Russian Doll #864, but then you’d all be nodding off. Best to call this post the end of just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

red box of white text: "Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?" – Proverbs 17:16, NIV Bible

Wisdom = asking and answering Should I?

The next blog post is already done, as I posted it prematurely. 😒 It’s a bit of a sticky wicket, if you must know, because it’s about that thing plenty of us avoid: making decisions.

©2015, Teresa Bennett

Odd #11: Recycling can lead to all sorts of entrepreneurial ventures.

photo of basket filled with paper to be recycled

Recycling paper (or anything) is an OLD idea.

Warning: if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, get ready to recognize that you, too, are ODD. But then, you may already know that deep down inside and simply have been indulging in denial as you’ve read about all my oddities and said to yourself “thank goodness I’m not like her!”

But, as I’ll keep saying, the oddest amongst us can learn and pass on pay-attention lessons that are of value even to the not-so-odd. This blog post gives you more than your money’s worth in pay-attention lessons, FYI.

Every summer before The Best-Ever Christmas, Mother would shoo me outside to get “some fresh air and sunshine” (her favorite cheerleading topics). Personally, I thought fresh air was overvalued. She, however, was convinced that fresh air and sunshine would be good for her bookworm daughter.

I intuitively figured she was wrong, wrong, wrong. Remember the melanin-deficiency thing? Even though I didn’t understand why, I knew the sun sapped my energy and made me want to take a nap. A nap! Ick. Anything was preferable to taking a nap in the middle of the day, especially at my grown-up age. I was so beyond the whole nappy thing.

Being infinitely more in touch with my body than she, my fiendishly clever strategy was to quietly dawdle in my room. Eventually, though, she’d work out that I was still in the house and forcibly shoo me outdoors. In her frustration, she sometimes resorted – depending on how long I’d been inside resisting her commands – to latching the screen doors behind me. (Did this ever happen to you? See? More oddity.)

The summer after The Best-Ever Christmas, when Mother started her cheerleading, I was ready for my enforced prescription of fresh-air-and-sunshine. Yessirr. I marched pertly past her without so much as a whimper with my attaché (cleverly disguised as my red-and-yellow-plaid book bag) and an old blanket tucked under my arm. Taking a sharp left, I headed for my favorite shady spot in the yard.

Mother, bless her soul, was left at the door – trout-mouthed – as I purposefully marched out like the woman on a mission that I was. Pay attention: here’s proof she was bumfuzzled. She forgot to latch the screen door behind me.

Spiraea Bush & Associates

Settling myself in the shade of an ancient spiraea bush in a comfy little corner made by the house walls, I spread the old blanket. (Even my nine-year-old, very odd mind sensed that asking clients to sit on bare dirt smacked of the worst sort of unprofessionalism.) Opening my “attache,” I began organizing my piles of catalogs, magazines, papers, envelopes and, of course, the stack of precious carbon paper – all valuable resources my profligate father had been tossing into the wastebasket by his desk.

With my Spiraea Bush & Associates “office” shaded from the sun’s sapping rays and everything duly appointed, I was ready for business. And just in the nick of time, too, for my first client.

Well, not a client in the true sense of the word. More like a nosy curiosity-seeker named Mother. Mouth closed and well recovered from her trout-mouth condition, she sauntered up to Spiraea Bush & Associates, peered under the bush, and asked what I was doing.

I’ve set up an office. Do you need some secretarial work done?”

“Not that I can think of.”

A pity, as I had the play typewriter from The Best-Ever Christmas, ample carbon paper, plenty of paper with blank back sides, and could easily have produced even the longest of letters – in duplicate or even triplicate. But, no. She had no business for me.

If I was disappointed, she was even more so. It was not, as you can imagine, exactly what she’d had in mind. But hey, she knew better than to complain. You see she’d been a mite duplicitous about fresh air. I thought she meant fresh air. It turns out she really meant physical exercise. But as I was in fresh air, she reluctantly settled for that – for the time being. 

Clearly, though, my desk-type entrepreneurial efforts didn’t qualify as a healthy childhood activity in her mind. Apparently, she wanted to see some running, jumping, or skipping – all activities I found highly overrated then. Now I know I missed my chance for building bone and will be fighting osteoporosis till I die. Odd, isn’t it, how parents know what they’re doing even when they don’t know what they’re doing?

Right about now would be a good time to come clean: Spiraea Bush & Associates was short-lived, as in two days. That’s because Mother shared the enterprise with my father, who initiated a serious father-daughter talk. It seemed he wasn’t keen on the idea that the contents of his wastebasket might end up as flying bits of paper all over our little neck of the woods. Yes, entrepreneurs sometimes meet with insurmountable roadblocks from the startlingly uncreative amongst us. And that’s all I’m going to say.

Well, not quite.

Here are the pay-attention bits
from this entrepreneurial enterprise.

  • Perhaps age nine is a little early for a sedentary desk job.
  • Parents often know exactly what they’re doing, even when they appear clueless.
  • Entrepreneurs almost always have an uphill battle. Get used to it.
  • When you discover a cache of good stuff some unimaginative soul has discarded, ask yourself in what inventive ways it could be recycled. (Need ideas? Ask a kid.)

Odd #12 blog post is ready: it’s all about that seldom encountered weirdness – paper addiction. (Yes, there is such a thing.)

©2015, Teresa Bennett

red box with white text: "It’s important to know who has the best, the most, the cheapest, the best delivery time, etc. Kids look through junkyards, yard sales, ‘free’ ads and under rocks. That’s all aside from keeping a list they’ve acquired through the grapevine of those who can offer the best fish bait, fireworks, homework help and bike repairs." – Joel Brown, Addicted2Success

Need ideas? As I said, ask a kid.

Odd #5: Knowing When a “Deal” is a DEAL

photo of green and gold paisley-print, 100% silk scarf

Do you have a single thing in your closet that you actually wear that’s over 50 years old? See? More oddity, as I most definitely do.

It’s paisley print with pale green, soft gold, and touches of a darker green. It’s a small, square, 100% silk scarf, and every time I’ve tied it around my collar, twisted it into a “belt,” tied it around a ponytail, or stuffed it in a blazer pocket, I’m transported back to the Woolworth’s of my youth. Though it wasn’t one of those impressive lunch-counter-type Woolworth’s found in the city (see Odd #3), it was the one we frequented most often because it was positioned handily in our little county seat.

As I explained in Odd #3, Woolworth’s Five and Dime Store was a veritable treasure trove of affordable goodies – where there really were things you’d want to buy for a nickel or a dime. Rather than a nickel or dime, though, my silk scarf probably cost an obscenely expensive 59 cents in 1962 money.

All the Woolworth’s I was ever lucky enough to visit had a certain sameness about them. Same basic layout. Same diagonally laid oak flooring. Same low display counters. Same seriously proper clerks. Most even had the same smell – the stores, that is.

I can’t remember enough about the smell to describe it. I remember only that every Woolworth’s I ever frequented as a child had that distinct smell. Maybe a combination of scents from the ubiquitous oiled floors and the coal-fired furnaces deep in the bowels of the old brick buildings in which they were inevitably housed?

Almost forty years after my scarf purchase and a few years after the demise of Woolworth’s in this country, I found myself in a Woolworth’s (when I’d assumed they were all dead). Same low counters. Same candy-by-the-pound section. Same diagonally laid wood flooring. Same affordable treasures, though the smell wasn’t quite the same. The catch? It was in Livingston, Scotland – a post-World-War-II, planned city, in a modern mall. Need I say more?

It was a time warp I was not expecting, but was delighted to find. Just as in my youth, I found all sorts of wonderful objects I simply had to purchase, even though I knew perfectly well the same objects probably cost less in a U.S. Walmart. Still, they were all deliciously inexpensive: charming children’s books, a delicate little glass cruet, classy photo frames, and so on. And so I toted them back across the Atlantic for old times’ sake.

The Pay-Attention Bit

Here’s where it gets sticky and, dang it, I have to contradict myself. I know I’ve said we need to get really, really, really good at saying no to buying stuff. Still, every once in a while, we’re presented with a very affordable “deal” that we can use for a lifetime. That’s when we pay attention and say yes.

Back to that silk scarf from Woolworth’s. I’ve worn it for 52 years. If I divide its 59-cent purchase price by 52 years’ worth of wear, was it really obscenely expensive? I don’t think so. Such a modest price, spread over 40-50 years, is an absolute steal – one no wise woman bypasses. The trick, of course, is knowing when “the deal” will be one that will give you the same bang for your buck as my scarf has given me, isn’t it? (Check out this story about our $12 chair “deal.”)

red box with white text: “Knowing when an item will provide you with years of use or enjoyment and is, therefore, worth its purchase price – THAT is a skill worth cultivating.” – Teresa Bennett

Apparently, no sage has said this, so I said it!

What do glamour and getting-over-it have in common? Read Odd #6, and laugh with/at me when you see where I’m headed with this glamour/getting-over-it spin.

© 2014, Teresa Bennett

Dressing Like the Professional You Are

photo of anorexic model

Professional? I don’t think so.

You know how behavioral psychologists claim that females mature sooner than males in almost any area you can name? This blog post is about the exception to that rule – the one area where males usually pay attention and figure it out before females. Well before females.

By the time most males reach their late twenties and certainly by their late thirties, they’ve decided they don’t have to allow fashion fads to trump professionalism and comfort. Twenty-something and thirty-something females, on the other hand, are usually still allowing what’s in style and the latest fashion fads to dictate their wardrobe choices, regardless of whether those styles are flattering, appropriate, or comfortable.

I was right there with them in my 20s and 30s – until I caught sight of myself fighting with my clothes whilst trying to run a meeting with a CEO client and his assistant. How did I look, you ask? Like one of those self-absorbed teen girls you’ve seen – pulling up a neckline, yanking down a hemline, fluffy up a staticky skirt, scrunching up too-long sleeves. I was very busy indeed – just not busy paying attention to my client and the project for which I’d been hired.

That’s when I made a new rule for myself: Remove “fight with clothing” from my daily to-do list. It’s long enough anyway without adding something so pointless.

Want to join me?

When you find yourself fighting with a garment, ban it to the back of the closet that night. When you buy new clothes, find a dressing room with plenty of mirrors and a seat, and put yourself through the paces of a normal workday.

You know all those fetching models who wear these fashion fads we’re discussing (like the dolman-sleeved, halter-topped vixen above)? Remember: they’re six feet tall and very possibly anorexic. You might look good in those clothes, too – if you’re anorexic. But, oh dearie me, I hope you’re not.

Furthermore, all they have to do is stand still and strike an alluring pose for the photographer. You have to do stuff whilst wearing your clothes. You know – sit, stoop, kneel, stretch, etc. The styles they’re modeling may, but more likely may not, have been designed with the working woman in mind. They may look cute, but nowhere close to professional.

Looking unprofessional in the corporate world can be a deal-breaker, come promotion time, as you already know. Shucks, you may not even get in if you look unprofessional, since most people – including the higher-ups where you work or would like to work – judge a book by the cover. If your “cover” looks unprofessional, they’ll stop right there.

During new-clothes-buying forays, bend over facing the mirror. Bend over with your rear to the mirror. Kneel. Pretend you’re reaching across a conference table. Stretch high for some pretend files. Stretch low to pick up pretend dropped files. Sit with your back to the mirror.

“Ick! Double ick!”

Your dressing room gymnastics will soon show certain fashion fads parade way more of your bare backside than you can reasonably assume coworkers care to see. It will become painfully evident when a neckline is just too distractingly low for professional attire. Too-tight garments will be so uncomfortable that when you bend, kneel, and stretch, you’ll fidget like a three-year-old in toilet training.

Fashion fads that are just TOO much will become obviously so – once you’re paying attention. Clothes-buying decisions will grow easier and quicker to make – once you’re paying attention.

And when you stop the thoughtless practice of adding fight-with-me clothes to your wardrobe and become accustomed to what all your guy peers already know, you may find you have even less patience with fight-with-me fashion fads. But what to do with all those clothes that have become closet dregs? Get a good-riddance thrill by dropping them off at your local thrift store. 

Wait. Isn’t that hypocritical? Aren’t you just passing on bad juju to some other, unsuspecting female? Maybe – depends on her weight, size, and profession. But if your closet rejects are as bad as you think, they won’t sell – as clothing.

When that’s the case, you know what thrift stores do, don’t you? They get some bucks by selling them to fabric recyclers who turn fight-with-me clothes into all sorts of things, including area carpets – which people buy and walk on. (Sweet revenge, eh?)

It’s up to you.

You can continue to fight with your clothes all in the name of style, or you can show up looking and acting like a well-dressed professional – the knows-what-she’s-doing kind of pro that you are. As you can tell, my money’s on the latter.

And so is your boss’s, by the way. How do I know? My “bosses” (clients) starting giving me a whole lot more respect and undivided attention once I stopped fidgeting and fighting with my clothes.

Pay attention to yourself in your next meeting, even if it’s just with your manager and no one else. Pay attention to every time you adjust an article of clothing (or your hair). Pay attention to your hands in your next departmental/committee meeting. Are you busy contributing and taking notes, or are you busy fighting with your clothes?

I’ll bet you’ve already started down this path. Would you share some of your hints for dressing like a professional with the rest of us? Please? (For another take on this 

© 2014 Teresa Layne Bennett

red box with white text: “The way we dress affects the way we think, the way we feel, the way we act, AND THE WAY OTHERS REACT TO US.” – Judith Rasband

From “America’s Image Expert” (caps mine)

Saying “No” – Practice, Practice, Practice

photo of ruby-encrusted Queen Elizabeth's crown

A crown?? Keep reading. It’ll make sense.

In our retail-centric culture, if you’re not willing to practice saying no till it rolls off your tongue like butter, prepare to be in debt for the rest of your life. I am not kidding.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to drop the yes habit and adopt the no habit in buying situations, you’ll stay solvent and maybe even able to hang onto enough disposable income to do something really cool. Hint: we get to no by asking Should I?

My favorite method
for practicing no

Instead of immediately pitching them into the recycling bin, open those flashy sales flyers that bulk up your daily paper, the glitzy catalogs that choke your mailbox, and the shouty, unsolicited, advertising emails that overpopulate your inbox. Now, read them.

Yes, I did say read them. And, yes, I know this flies in the face of what I said about encouraging yourself by not comparing; keep reading, and all will be made clear.

Pay attention to each piece, especially advertising fliers from stores you’d never dare set foot in. Look at each item and say no ALOUD to each item you don’t want or need. Do this as many times as it takes for no-thanks-don’t-need-it becomes your no-need-to-think-about-it, first response.

My next favorite
practice for learning
to just say no

As you sail down grocery-store aisles in hot pursuit of whatever’s on your grocery list, pay attention to all the stuff you’re sailing past. Start muttering to yourself (quietly – we don’t want them to take you away) no, nope, no thanks, don’t need that, or that, or that. You’ll be stunned by how many items there are in your favorite supermarket that you have no need of – all the things to which you can honestly and painlessly say no.

My favorite practice
for dire circumstances . . .

oh, say, a glitzy new mall or fancy-dancy department store. When someone near and dear coaxes you into into these hotbeds of fiscal ruin, use that event to practice your no habit. Wander the aisles, paying attention to all the products you have absolutely no need of and would never be silly enough (even if you had the money) to buy. Even better; pay particular attention to all the products you wouldn’t ever, ever, ever want to wear, possess, eat, etc. No! NO! NO! Excellent practice.

Pay attention, now:
yes, YOU can learn to say no.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t become a no maven in the spending arena. I’ve done it, and you already know how cluelessly average I’ve been. That means you can say no just as competently and effectively as anyone else.

However, you have some serious catching up to do. On my best no day, NO ONE can beat my no habit. Queen Elizabeth could offer me her crown for only $29.95 and before I could stop myself, I’d blurt out, “Rubies are kinda winey red, aren’t they? That’s really not my best color. Naaah, no thanks.”

Not exactly the sort of dialogue that makes for good Anglo-American relations across the pond, but then it’ll never come to that, now will it?

Can you learn to say no to spending? Of course you can! Pay attention and utilize every arena where you can practice, practice, practice saying no. Then do us all a favor, and share your best no-to-spending story.

© 2014 Teresa Layne Bennett

red box with white text: "Most of us have very weak and flaccid 'no' muscles . . . . . Your 'no' muscle has to be built up. . . ." – Iyanla Vanzant

How’s YOUR “no” muscle? Weak? Practice!

%d bloggers like this: