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Video killed the blog star

I finally figured out how to embed the video, so here you go.

I had a lot of fun making this one, and I see no reason I shouldn't go and make another. All I need is another good idea, some fringe, yet practical, method of Heavy Thrifting.

Maybe I'll go Dumpster diving? No, I don't think America* is ready for that. (While we're on the subject, a question: Do our filthy, disgusting -- yet incredibly practical and, if you believe in conservation as I do, then I'd even say morally impressive -- garbage-reclaiming practices really need to be corporately sponsored?)

For now, I'll think on it and accept any suggestions you may have.

I've been tempted lately with the snack machines a little. But then I found a bag of cranberry, pecan & white chocolate trail mix I'd hidden in the fridge. (So good.) As long as I bring in my own snacks, there's no reason to buy their more expensive, subpar offerings.

I feel bad about the guy that works the cafeteria register. I'm sure he thinks I've been fired.

PS: Do me a favor, and click on that little Digg button down there. Yeah, it's OK. It's just a click. Maybe you have to register. C'mon. You've registered. It's pie. No problem. Right?

*(or intrepid reporter Brayden Simms, for that matter)

Posted by Brayden Simms at 05:08 PM on March 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

The truth about stains

This link will direct you to the Heavy Thrifting month-in-review article, which appears in Sunday's Miami Herald Money section.

ThriftingThis link will take you to the video capturing my trip to the Bargain Barn thrift store with video producer Niala Boodhoo.

If it hasn't been established well enough already, this data file will forever ensure my digital legacy is synonymous with cheap.

I am hilariously embarrassed.

I'd like to thank Ms. Boodhoo for her steady hand and mostly kind editing skills. Still, you know its good when the first thing your video producer* says before showing you the edit is: "I'm sorry."

Let me know what you think.

And be kind.

* (wow, I have one of those)

Posted by Brayden Simms at 12:28 AM on March 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

a sound saving strategy

If all you ever do is work, there is never any time to spend the money you're always earning. It's really quite a sound saving strategy. And all you have to do is give your life to your work.

I haven't quite reached that level yet -- though some fear I'm already too close. Trust me, I believe that time off is time well spent. Still, the overtime is nice.

Maybe this is too soon, but it's been weighing on my mind: I don't know what I'm going to do in a week, when I'm free from the shackles of my no-spend experiment.

The truth is, No.1 penny pincher that I am, next month, when I'm not hosting a blog on saving, I will definitely spend more money. At the same time, it's not like I'll be going to the mall or anything. I won't up and buy a pony.

Actually, now that I think about it, my health insurance kicks in on April 1 (seriously). So, hypothetically at least, I will be spending less from my so-called "non-negotiable expenses" and therefore less overall.

Unless, of course, I go and blow it all on who-knows-what.

Posted by Brayden Simms at 12:59 AM on March 29, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Heavy Thrifting - hunting for bargains

Today video producer Niala Boodhoo chaperoned me on a trip to a thrift store in downtown Miami. She got a lot of footage, so hopefully she'll be able to edit out all the parts where I make a fool of myself, though probably not. You'll be able to view that video here in a couple days, after, apparently, the many hours it will take her to whittle it down to two measly minutes.

I took Niala to the Bargain Barn, on NW 1st St and NW 22nd St, in Miami's Wynwood Art District. The Bargain Barn is the best place to find cheap, used furniture in Miami. But tucked away in the back, they also have a modest sized thrift shop, and I was on the hunt for work clothing. Still, filming and all, we took the 10 cent tour.

Thrift shopping is a great way to save money, but it's more than just a cheap thrill. When you buy your clothes thrift, you know you are conserving resources: both by spending fewer dollars and by contributing to a process that encourages the reuse of products and the reduction of waste,  rather than the typical cycle of production and disposal.

Furthermore, organizations such as the Bargain Barn (operated by the Miami Rescue Mission) use the money gained through thrift sales to provide food, clothing, shelter and recovery services to the less fortunate. Imagine that; instead of buying new clothes, manufactured no doubt by low-wage workers stuffed in a sweatshop; you recycle what would otherwise be thrown away, and in so doing, contribute to the betterment of some unknown lives.

What's the down side again?

I gave myself a $10 budget.

I ended up buying two fancy, button-down dress shirts for work, a swanky silver silk tie emblazoned with lizards, a hard copy version of Steven King's unabridged The Stand and a cereal-worthy blue mug and saucer combo (originally from IKEA). I brought everything up to the counter fully expecting to have to make a difficult choice. The price ended up being $10.70.

So I splurged a little.

Much to Niala's disgust, I wore the clothes right in to work.

Below, my thrift store ensamble:

(can you make out the lizards?)


Photo by Claudia Boyd-Barrett

Posted by Brayden Simms at 02:11 AM on March 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

Every little bit

I finally confirmed my ING account. Turns out its a perfectly reputable online bank after all. I've set it to transfer $200 from my checking account biweekly, on every payday. 3.1% interest here I come!

Sometimes, though, I get to thinking: What's the point of saving something that seems to be progressively declining in value? The dollar is depreciating. Doesn't that mean that the longer you hold on to it, the less it's worth?

 I guess we just have to have faith in our economic system. The alternative is bleak. Heck, the choice itself is fairly bleak. Quite the conundrum, if i do say so myself.

Despite my cynicism, this is Heavy Thrifting. We're going to put this money away, and watch as the returns roll in. Those beautiful, slightly-higher-than-usual, marginal, inconsequential returns. Still, it's more than I would have otherwise, and for free.

I'm craving some free right now. I had to see the doctor today; but since my insurance doesn't kick in for another week, I paid full price. That really smarts. Maybe I can wait to fill the prescription...

Every little bit

Posted by Brayden Simms at 12:58 AM on March 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Not working is the best

Not working is the best.

The. Best.

I spent some money today; it is the weekend after all. But I've also been very productive.

I called the Ticket Clinic and secured a lawyer for the ticket I got, on my birthday, for illegal use of the HOV lane. It cost $87. (With any hope, court fees will be nominal.) Even though this occurred pre-Heavy Thrifting, I'm glad to pay it off this month. It represents one of those financial irregularities, the kind that strike at whim, take $100 from your wallet and go on their merry way.

Like today, I went grocery shopping with a friend. As we were leaving, she backed into another car. No one was hurt, but in an instant she knew she was out a couple hundred dollars. Bummer, but it happens. There's nothing you can do about it except pay up and move on.

I think the ticket irregularity skews my data back in the right direction. It works because being written tickets is, at least for me, a semi-regular occurrence.  You never know when, but once and while, you're going to get written up for something. And you're probably going to forget about it and have to pay the late fee.

In lighter news, I finally cooked.

I wanted something enormous, delicious and healthy, so I made a vegetarian Thai green curry.  It's got it all: coconut milk, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, baby carrots and more. The total tab at Publix for the ingredients was $25.11. It was great for dinner and its going to be even better tomorrow once it thickens. And the next day. And all week.

Good thing I love vegetarian Thai green curry.

Posted by Brayden Simms at 01:30 AM on March 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Chick patties with duck sauce

At long last, the weekend. (Yes, this is the beginning of my weekend. I know, I know: Worst. Weekend. Ever.)

Let's see, what fun activities do I have planned for this beautiful two-day oasis of time off?

Well, I need to schedule an appointment with the doctor and hopefully go see her; call a lawyer about the ticket I got on my birthday; fill a prescription; find and install four new tires before mine explode; get an oil change while I'm at it; go to the bank; and write an article for Sunday's paper.

I know, sounds expensive.

Too bad I can't wait a couple weeks until my insurance kicks in. Wait, can I? Should I sacrifice my health for savings? No, I don't think so. Not this time, at least.

Also this weekend, I'd like to check out the Bargain Barn down on NW 1st. It's been a while since I've been there, and I'm in the mood for a bargain. I wonder if they sell tires...

Earlier today, on my way to work, I hadn't made myself a lunch. So as I left the house I just grabbed an assortment of frozen goods. And I have to say, I really enjoyed the chick patties with duck sauce.

Seven days without spending.

Posted by Brayden Simms at 01:10 AM on March 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Six days, no spending

Man, those two-for-one English muffins have been coming in real handy.

(You know what they call English muffins in England? Muffins. What? It's true.)

I have now gone six days without spending money. (Well, for the most part; I mean I'm still living in my apartment and using electricity and gas; I drove through the SunPass lane on the Turnpike. But, I have not transacted with anyone or anything. I have not swiped my credit card or made a small impulse purchase.)

I feel a teensy transcendent.

It is now hard for me to spend money. I don't gaze longingly at the snack machines. It's kind of how, after a few years practicing vegetarianism, it can be quite difficult (at least for me) to put a piece of meat into your mouth and chew. It feels wrong.

Today at work someone came by asking if anyone had change for a five. I didn't -- I had three ones though. I offered them, but he didn't take any. I think he felt bad, but I told him, honestly, it's OK -- I'm not going to spend them.

I can't wait for the weekend to begin.

Posted by Brayden Simms at 01:26 AM on March 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

A literal penny pincher

My great uncle and my father took me out for breakfast this morning. I ate sparingly and saved half for dinner. (Before you protest about my free-mealing, know this: Every other Saturday, a rebel group from the Siminofsky clan catches breakfast together; the tab is rotating, I just lucked out this time.)

During the course of our meal, I noticed something:

A man came into the restaurant to pick up a take-out order. He paid the cashier in cash and she handed him his change, 2 cents, on top of his receipt. Using only his receiving hand, he reached inward, squeezing the pennies together between his thumb and forefinger, and, using his remaining three fingers to release the receipt into the counter top tip jar, stuck the pennies into his pocket and left.

I couldn't believe it! Right before me: a literal penny pincher. And there I was, angry.

I don't know whether he should have given the register girl the two cents, but why go through all the effort to save them, either? Why, if you're going to pollute the tip jar with your financial waste, not just throw the two cents along for good measure? I mean, if you don't want to tip the register jockey, OK, fine, you're not obligated. But you don't have to throw it in her face, either.

It got me thinking about charity.

Now, I'm not a religious man, but I do believe in sharing the wealth.

I find, and a new study supports the theory, that it makes me happy to give money to other people.

Heavy Thrifting is not  about holding back on tips or being stingy with the ones you love. It's about being smart with your money, not being a jerk.

It should be, like I've said all along, a holistic process, wherein the entire spending spectrum is analyzed and edited for maximum efficiency. I'm working on it.

That doesn't mean I'm not going to tip. It just means I'm not going to restaurants.

Posted by Brayden Simms at 12:43 AM on March 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

I have a dream

A co-worker today mentioned that this whole no-spend month is great and all, but that I could just put off my major purchases for the following month and skew the numbers.

This is true.

In a perfect world, the good folk at The Miami Herald would pay me, for the rest of my life, to be a tightfisted, money grubbin', penny penchin' mooch. And I'd be the best damned scrooge that ever there was, more niggardly (that is NOT a racial epithet*) even then ol' Ebeneezer.

But, as I'm sure all of you are most painfully aware, this is not a perfect world.

Moving on.

So, how am I taking care of myself? What exactly am I subsisting on?

Today, for breakfast, I had a big bowl of oat cereal in soy milk, with a banana cut up in it. For lunch I had another banana and a granola bar. For dinner I had a couple frozen tamales. My boss gave me a small bit of her fish.

I think that's pretty healthy; I mean my frozen dinner is not so great, I'm sure it had a lot of sodium. But who cares? The rest was fruit, oats, fish and bean. So I'm fine, this isn't killing me. This is mostly sustainable. I mean, fully sustainable, but, you know, just not fully probable.

Now that I've cataloged my day's caloric intake, my stomach is starting to grumble. I'm going to go grab something to eat.

*Honestly, this is just a word that sounds like a racial slur, it has a precise meaning, and it doesn't have anything to do with race. I am sorry if you are offended.

Posted by Brayden Simms at 01:57 AM on March 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

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