Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Yankee Principles

I am a Yankee. Not in the co-opted sense of the word that refers to the despised New York sports team, but in the actual definition of the word. A New Yorker is not a Yankee. Real Yankees are found in New England, not in New York. (I could go on, but that's a story for another blog.)

Yankees are known for frugality, a "make do or do without" mentality. The phrase "Yankee ingenuity" refers to the sort duck tape and wire approach that Yankees are known for in making things work -- and keeping them working --rather than spending money to buy a new one.

When I built myself a room in the garage, my "mead hall", I needed a great deal of plywood. Plywood at Home Depot was running about $18 a sheet. Instead, I found a guy who was selling sheets of plywood that had been previously used as a subfloor in a warehouse in New Bedford. I had to pull about a million nails out of them, but I was able to get them for just $2 a sheet. I had the time. I saved the money. (http://glenoterica.blogspot.com/2009/06/mead-hall-is-done.html)

More recently, I've been a Craig's List fanatic. This website was made for Yankees. When Janet told me she wanted to buy a new $250 baby carriage for the babies we're expecting, I quickly found the same one, used, on Craig's List for $75. (What? I didn't mention she's carrying twins? That'll have to be my next blog.) We bought pair of children's playground structures for the yard and saved about $500 over the cost of new ones.

On the other side of the ledger book, I've been selling anything I can pull out of my garage. Yesterday, I sold a small swimming pool for $70 for which I had paid $110 last year. And I don't plan on stopping there.

Last Sunday, I sold my beloved 2007 Nissan Maxima. I think I've mentioned my love of all things Maxima in this forum, but, if I haven't, let me just say that I've owned a succession of four Nissan Maximas, going back to 1994. I never buy them new, preferring to get them off lease at much cheaper prices. This last one, was the best of the lot. I often say that not only is it the best car I've ever owned, it's likely the best car I'll ever own. It was handsome, fast as heck, and fantastically reliable. There is nothing like a non-American car for reliability, and I can't say enough good things about the reliability of Nissan Maximas.

But now that Janet is running a home day care, it dawned on me that the only time both cars are gone from the driveway is on Sunday morning when I leave early for worship team practice and she's still home getting Ben ready for church. That's it. Otherwise, there is always a car payment parked in the driveway gathering dust. I asked myself why? Then I asked Janet what our payments were and how much insurance was each month. When she answered, I didn't hesitate. I posted the car on Craig's List that day.

I was able to sell it for just over $5,000 more than I owed on it. That, and a savings of over $400 a month in car and insurance payments made this decision a no brainer. That's a chunk of change that, in the middle of a recession, I'm more than happy to not send to someone else.

So we've become a one car family. (Yeah, you guessed it, we kept the minivan.) But I don't care. These days, I'd reuse toothpaste if I could get it back into the tube. Belts are tightening around Upham Manor and, rather than being bummed out about it, I find it rather exciting. With everything I look at around the manor, I think to myself, "What advantage can be made of that? Do I need it? Can I sell it? Can I fix it? How long will it last me?"

My next goal is to eliminate cable TV. That's not going to be an easy battle. Janet enjoys having it. I suppose I do to, but I don't enjoy the absurd price we're paying for it.

I think I just found the topic of my next post.


Genie of the Shell said...

Congratulations on the twins!! That's very exciting!

I admire your Yankee ingenuity. I also like to reuse materials when I can and scout Craigslist and eBay for deals on things I know I want.

I also own and love a Nissan. We have a three-worker household and two shared vehicles, so we carpool and ride bikes whenever possible. And I don't feel bad about driving a Japanese car. Though the company is foreign, the car was manufactured in the United States, whereas some people's Ford trucks are manufactured in Mexico.

We've lived without cable TV (or any TV) for years, and we don't miss it. If we really want to see something, we can get it on the internet or watch it at someone else's house. And then it's a party, not just zone-out time at home.

It kinda feels good and freeing to know you don't need crap that other people consider necessary. Life really isn't any better with cable and a new car every year. But life is made better from learning new skills and feeling self-sufficient.

Gleno said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

Talk to my husband about the plethera of shows you can get on line and with net flix. You dont' really need cable. More later.