Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pennies Make Dollars

A few minutes ago the man of our house returned from his morning walk and picking up our mail at the town post office.  He accidentally dropped an envelope, and a neighbor was kind enough to pick up the envelope and follow him home with it.  Now, that's what I call a small-town courtesy.

One Coin at a Time
There were no bills in the stack of mail, and goody gumdrops for that.  The other day I was paying our bills online, and I noticed that our cable bill was 1 penny more than usual.  Hmmmm.  What is that all about?  Naturally, a person simply pays the bill and doesn't question the quirk, but if they charge 1 penny to 10,000 of their customers, well, they've just brought in a free and clear extra $100 smackers and have to be laughing like hyenas at how simple it is to screw the penny at a time.  

Our household usually buys a certain kind of bread...Brownberry Oatnut, whole grain bread.  It's darned good tasting and good for us.  Walmart sells it for two loaves for $5, and the usual price at a local grocery store is 3.99 a loaf.  Same identical bread, across town, $1.49 more.  People with lots of money most likely wouldn't mind coughing up $1.49 more, but that's not how it's done at our house.  I learned when I was a little girl how to watch out for price gouging. 

When my mother was able to shop for her own groceries, she would get her cart to the check-out lane and be able to figure in her head within pennies of what the total should be.  That's how sharp she was at calculating what she picked up and what each item cost.  Sometimes the checker's amount would be higher than she thought it oughta be, and without fail there was a mistake made by the store.  Nobody got the best of her, and I was proud of how she watched out for herself.

It helps, too, that my hubby worked in grocery retail all his life.  He is naturally geared to watching for good sales.  And, if we bring home something like a watermelon and it's barely edible, you can be assured the store will get a call and we'll get another one at no charge.  He had to satisfy many of his customers that way over the years, and it helps that he knows the twists and turns of the innards of merchandising.

Also in the mail these days are election campaign brochures, leaflets, and letters.  Honest to god, I know that there are those who want to give us a voice, but what good is a voice if no one is listening?  All wanna-be politicians are fervent in their attempts, I'm sure, but the older I get, the more I understand what my dad always said.....they're all crooks.  He also used to say that the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.

Each household has to fend for themselves, best they can, and live within their means.  That's the secret to it all. We've never tried to "keep up with the Joneses," and it's paid off.  Alot of money is spent on silly things, and the choice belongs to each of us on how we spend our money.  One thing I do know is that both my parents would raise themselves from their graves if they ever saw me spending money foolishly.  Our family had an 11th Commandment.  Maybe what we're lacking in our society today is more showing our kids that they must first "earn" money and then "manage" their money if they want to make it in this world.  Take away the "silver spoons" and see what happens!

Today's trivia:  How "buck" became slang for U.S. dollar?  The term originated from the Old West when buckskin was a common medium of exchange with Indians.  Later as currency replaced the barter system, people still referred to a dollar as a buck (short for buckskin).