Prices continue to rise. People are searching for ways to cut costs to keep their heads above the water line. I clip coupons and scan the paper for sales in an effort to keep food costs down. Our pharmacy sends emails with specials on coffee and cosmetics, which I try to follow up on. As it happens, I needed a few things from the pharmacy yesterday, but only had one coupon appropriate for what I was buying. Putting my items in the basket I went to the front of the store to check out. Because of the holiday weekend, all lines were busy. Being in no particular hurry, I chose a line and got behind the last shopper. The woman in front of me had an extremely full cart, but other lines were equally backed up so I stayed put. Luck being what it is, the woman turned out to be an extreme couponer. In the kiddie seat beside her purse was a bulging notebook. Standing at the register it flipped open to reveal page after page of plastic sleeves filled with coupons. Each section was tabbed and in her hand she held a stack of coupons about 3″ high. I’m not lying here. Naturally, each coupon had to scanned. Some were good. Some were not. I knit a sweater, wrote the great American novel, and took a class on Spanish as a second language while waiting for her receipt to print. In the end, she paid about $6.00 for the overflowing basket and went on her way. I bought some hair mousse and two twelve-packs of toilet paper. Handing over thirty dollars and one $.50 off coupon, I received enough change in return to purchase a pack of breath mints.
I wish I had the time, patience, and energy to collect and categorize all those coupons. Really I do. I admire the tenacity, but question the resources. My life doesn’t have the bandwidth to include the hours it must take to amass such a collection. Not only do you have to obtain the coupons in the first place, but you have to sort by like coupons, file them, and travel about to appropriate places to use them. Also, they go out of date fairly quickly. You would have to go through periodically and throw out the ones already past their use date. Ach.
Bartering though, is another concept for cutting costs I’m toying with. For example, my dear friend Louise and I barter every six weeks in a manner of speaking. While living in our previous home, Louise was the first friend I made when we moved to that area, also my hairdresser. When we moved, Louise sort of came with me. Every six weeks she travels here to touch up my hair. In exchange I make her a fabulous meal, provide her with her favorite adult beverage, and, if she has the time, offer my downstairs guest bedroom for the night cooking her breakfast in the morning before she leaves. This gives her a night away in the tall trees, provides us a chance to catch up on our lives, and leaves me root free for another six weeks. Works beautifully for us.
With this in mind I came up with an idea. I know. Please write down the date. It may not happen again for another decade or two. I had a large computer monitor I wanted out of my craft room. We defer to our laptop these days for everything so it was just gathering dust. I ran an ad to sell it on Craig’s List with no takers. I reduced the price to nearly free. Still no response. This is a very nice monitor, practically new. Hmmmmm. So, I came up with an idea. I needed a few bushes and tree limbs trimmed. I posted the monitor under free stuff at no cost with one caveat. Whoever claimed it needed to trim my trees and bushes. Having no idea how this would work I hit “publish” and went on my way. My phone and my email lit up with responses. Actually I had to remove the ad to make it stop. A student at Sac State was the first to respond.
Our student arrived about two hours later. I handed him the trimmers. In about an hour he did a nice job on the yard, piling the trimmings in my trash can. In exchange, I handed him the monitor and after mutual nods of appreciation he went on his way. This was an idea I can embrace. Sort of a win/win.
This is not the first time I have dabbled in bartering. I have swapped my artwork for services in the past, and have used my writing skills in exchange for goods a time or two. Bartering is certainly not a new concept, dating back to prehistoric days. Perhaps a warm pelt was exchanged for a willing bride, or meat for the best cave to wait out the winter in.
I will try this again. It allowed me to help out a student needing a desk, and it helped me to get rid of the tree limbs encroaching on my driveway. Yea.
This dressing leans toward the sweet. I’ve always called it sugar salad. The dressing should be made the day before for the best results. Yummy.
2 hearts of romaine, chopped
3 green onions, sliced thin
1/3 cup green bell pepper, sliced in strips
1/3 cup orange bell pepper, sliced in strips
8 radishes, sliced thin
Poppy Seed Dressing
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. minced onion
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. hot paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 1/2 tsp. poppy seeds
Whisk together all ingredients. Refrigerate 24 hrs. for best results. Toss with salad ingredients just before serving.