Don’t Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Buy Today

I want to go ahead and say it one more time, not only so I am unquestionably on record as saying it, but also because it is imminent.  There is no avoiding or escaping it. The greatest threat that we face to our lifestyle, freedom, and resilience is the rising cost of things. I don’t even know if I should keep calling it inflation. That term has been saddled with so much baggage that I don’t think it makes sense to most people. Couple that with the current accepted definition – which most people accept or buy into – and saying it almost doesn’t convey what it is you are actually trying to say/identify; it almost doesn’t make your point.

You know my trip into minimalism and my recent post about why I’ve begun washing clothes less; you know I believe keeping costs low, rational and to a minimum is a necessary part of the Opt Out strategy because spending less means getting out of debt slavery sooner, and it also means more money to either save or apply toward some sort of asset or physical property.  Buying the things now that are going to serve us and last as we move forward into the future is an investment in that future.  The fewer expenses we are saddled with going forward, the more flexibility we have in the decisions we make regarding our own lives.

All that to say I bought some Fruit of the Loom t-shirts about a month ago from amazon, I had to buy a 4 pack which was $12.46. That’s $3.12/shirt. I received them, I’ve worn each one at least twice, and they are typical Fruit of the Loom t-shirts. I buy these to wear under my work shirts so I don’t have to wash the work shirts so often (see recent Laundry post). These t-shirts are colored rather than white.  There is a charcoal grey, a greenish blue, a blueish green, and a black. The colored t-shirts provide more resiliency than the all white ones for a couple of reasons: the white ones absorb body oil, sweat, and environmental stains that start to be noticeable on white t-shirts very quickly – even though they are freshly washed, so they won’t look dirty when they are in fact clean.

Also, they are more versatile. One morning when getting ready for work my oldest asked with her attitude, “why would you wear a light grey t-shirt with black pants and a blue sweater? Couldn’t you have worn one that either matched your pants or your shirt?

The answer was actually “no”. All I had were white t-shirts – 9 of them, 6 large which were too big and 3 medium which fit but got worn the most so therefore were beginning to show discoloration– and one new, light grey Levi’s t-shirt, the one to which she was referring.  That got me to thinking.  Why do I have all these white t-shirts?  They get dingy so fast and there is nothing short of bleaching them to get them to look truly clean, Which means they need to be replaced before the have actually outlived their usefulness.  They are also boring and so freaking conservative, exactly the kind of thing a cubicle clone would wear.  I decided to try and find some alternative, even if it meant more grey t-shirts.  That’s when I saw that Haynes and Fruit of the Loom had t-shirts in colors.

This turned out to be one of the quality purchases I keep going on and on about.

Keep in mind that it was literally one month ago-4 weeks, because the point of this cute little story is that the price went up today to just over $14.99. Still a good price, I’m going to order another 4 pack on payday. But it validates my point about buying quality now rather than later because going from 3.12 per shirt to 3.75 per shirt may only be 63 cents, 2.53 per pack, chump change in real dollars, but it represents a 17% increase. You’re not going to hear about those kinds of price percentage increases when the talking heads are talking about inflation. I can go a long time without a new xbox or flat screen tv, but clothes are most definitely a necessity by my definition of necessity, along with eggs and ground beef. These are the items that are skyrocketing percentage wise.

If you look at it from a strictly Real Dollar vantage point, heck yeah I can swing $2.53 per pack more. But next year it could be another $2.50, and so on. Every little $5 and $10 increase in price may seem insignificant, but if it represents an increase in price of 17% each time it goes up, you have to weigh that against your annual raise of 2%-3% per year, assuming it only increases in cost once per year. The cost of that item outstrips you’re your buying power increase by 15%. Do some math and stretch that out over 10 years. In terms of buying power you are essentially paying the corporation that employees you for the joy of working for them.

Advertisements

Spending Money I Don’t Have

I just can’t keep waking up feeling like this. Every morning I wake up feeling like I used to when I was lifting heavy every day. It’s mainly my back, and secondarily my butt and legs. I am yawning as I type this. The solution that has sprung to mind is to replace my 14 year old mattress. I’ve hated it since we bought it, it’s too dang soft. But since I really can’t afford a new, quality mattress, I am going to spend the money on a memory foam topper to see if that helps. If it doesn’t, then I am going to lay it directly on the box springs to see how that goes. If it is better, then I will most likely take the plunge and by the 4 inch topper to combine with the 2 inch I am going to buy today and just use that as a replacement.

I really don’t want to spend the money, considering how desperately I want to free myself from the rat race. I have determined that my greatest chance of success in this endeavor will be to be able to live on half of what I make now. That means paying off all the debt that I can, and the sooner the better. Same goes for retirement, I have realized that I don’t have a truly actionable plan in place to retire (whatever that word means), and I have accepted that it will not happen unintentionally, so I must begin saving toward that goal and putting into place systems that support that goal. This brings me back to seriously reduced spending.

But I would rather be happy and at peace than free. I don’t think that is possible for the type of person I am, I need to be free to be happy, but my point remains. I can’t focus on doing the hard thing if I am lacking the resolve or mental fortitude to do the hard thing, to make the hard choices, or to do proper analysis of situations and opportunities that may arise. Waking up feeling well rested goes a long way toward keeping my mind strong and agile. I also need to be physically refreshed to continue vegetable gardening and planting trees for food as well as shade (lower electric bills dontcha know). Hence a new mattress of some sort seems to be a necessity. I might as well do it now as opposed to later, since everything is getting more expensive, and pay increases are becoming a joke – borderline insulting even. Invest in any assets or personal property now if you can, and get something that is going to really last so you can push off replacing it as long as possible.

GETTING AHEAD OF THE CURVE – MAKING PROGRESS: LAUNDRY

As I stated in “The Challenges of Getting Ahead of the Curve”, there are just too many moving parts to keep up with for the paltry two days you get for doing everything that needs attention. Not to mention how much more so if you are actually trying to make some kind of significant change to your lifestyle. Nevertheless, there is no excuse to give up. You must keep chipping away, like Andy with his rock hammer in “Shawshank Redemption”. Eventually some progress can be realized, although it is often after changing the way we look at things. I think a critical change that must take place to accomplish this is to stop caring what other people think. The Bible would say do not fear the opinions of man.

Along that line of thinking I have implemented a way of doing things that my grandfather (pop) brought to my attention when I was like 12. This past weekend I was looking at my new pair of 501 Levis (they are worth the money because they really last) and something printed on one of the tags caught my eye. It said “ Wash Less, wash cold”, which reminded me of the lesson my pop had tried to convey to me so long ago. Every day when he got home from work he would immediately change out of his clothes and hang them up to be re-worn another time.

I’ve been doing that very thing for a couple of months now, but rather than rotating out my slacks, I merely re-wear the same pair each day and wash on the weekend if I have enough for a load, or leave them in the hamper and start the week with a new pair of slacks. I’ve also started doing it with my work shirts. It is always freezing at work so I never ever break a sweat, plus I wear a short sleeved t-shirt underneath my shirt so it is basically clean. I currently wear each one 3 times before washing. After a little more research I have discovered that denim should be rarely washed at all. Just freeze for 24 hours to kill any germs or bacteria. This won’t work with the jeans I wear when working in the yard, but other than that…

This practice is going to be even more important now that I am in full stride toward minimalism. I won’t have enough slacks or dress shirts to wear a new one each and every day. So now I have just freed up more time on the weekend, reduced the amount of electricity and water used (and money spent) for doing laundry by doing laundry less frequently, and my clothes should last longer thereby stretching my clothing budget some. More free time, less money spent, and smaller carbon footprint. Win win win.

As a side note, I also found a work shirt (which is actually a sweater) that I like so much I have bought two more – I now have a charcoal, a navy, and a plum. I no longer need to spend as much time in the morning deciding what to wear, I just don’t have that many options now. That’s ok with me, I don’t fit in nor belong in the corporate environment anyway. It’s not like I was ever going impress anybody. I also threw away an older pair of slacks that I wore all of last week but are too big, and I’ve kept around “just in case”. I did not wash them first, just took them off and pitched them. I feel like I am making progress; I feel good.