Friday, March 13, 2009

The Redhead is on the move!

I made the transition from Blogger to WordPress and picked up my own domain name along the way! From now on, please visit me at:

It should be easier to comment on my posts now, too, so try it out at the new site!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How much redecorating can you do with $300?

Today, the NYT Home section deduced that unemployed people need home makeovers to cheer them up…or something. At any rate, they issued a challenge to five interior designers: spend no more than $300 to redecorate one room in the homes of jobless folks.
"It was a tall order, especially for established decorators accustomed to
spending five and sometimes even six figures on a single room. Several pointed
out that even if they found an old set of drapes stashed in a closet, or
scrounged half a can of paint from a client’s neighbor, brackets and hooks and
paintbrushes cost money, and small expenses quickly add up. Of the five
designers who agreed to participate, most wanted special dispensations, like the
right to treat leftover materials lying around their offices as free supplies."

OK, I know paint, furnishings, and accessories add up quickly. But it’s not like they were tackling entire homes; it was one room. And all these apartments seem pretty upscale to begin with, so it couldn’t have been too hard to make them look nice. Guess how many decorators met the budget? One. Last I checked, decorators are supposed to be creative and resourceful. And who are these people spending six figures to decorate one room? What is wrong with this world??

Besides generally pissing me off, this article also prompted me to look up the receipts for our painting extraveganza after we moved. Over four trips to The Home Depot, we spent $177.27 on paint and supplies for two rooms. Honestly, that’s less than I thought we spent, so I’m pretty happy (and we have leftover paint, if anyone needs some). The only other decorating expense we incurred was new curtains. I tried salvaging our old blinds, but they were way too narrow for our new windows. The new curtains and rods for the bedroom, living room, and kitchen cost about $125. Grand total: $302.27. For the entire apartment. I even bet we could have done a lot more with that $300 if we were set on spending no more than that.
A glimpse at what $300 can do for an apartment:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Can thriftiness become a compulsion?

This thought came to mind while I was reading an AP article about usually frugal people. Now that the economy is tanking, these penny-pinchers are bringing frugality to a whole new level. The women in the lede says, "I was already I am neurotic about it." Cutting lotion bottles in half to scrape the sides, concocting homemade laundry detergents, letting cupboards go bare before visiting the grocery store. The actions aren't jaw-dropping, per se. But what is surprising is that the people quoted are financially stable. They have jobs. They have savings. They aren't one missed bill away from living in a tent city.

So what's driving the belt-tightening? Fear. I admit this mindset creeps up on me, too. There's that little voice in my head that says, "Maybe I shouldn't paint my apartment. If I get laid off tomorrow, I'll feel so stupid for having spent x-amount of dollars on paint." I think there's more to it, though, for the type of people in this article. It's a control thing. They can't control what happens on Wall Street or who gets laid off, but they can control how much product they get out of a lotion bottle, how many coupons they clip, and how few bottles of laundry detergent they use. In a helpless situation, they search for things they can control. It's reassuring, even if the net gain is minimal.

I'm definitely not saying the people in this article have any sort of compulsion. But it's a fine line between spending wisely and becoming OCD about saving every penny. Some people spend to fill a void or mask pain; isn't it possible that other people just stop buying things to exert control over a fearful and uncertain environment? Do some become "saveaholics," just as it's possible that others are "shopaholics"? Or am I reading too much into this? Tell me your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thinking I lost a diamond: File under "heart attack moments"

photo: Kay Jewelers

On my train ride home, I had my hands folded in my lap. My right hand touched my wedding ring...and felt gaping emptiness between metal prongs. My heart literally skipped a beat as a dozen thoughts crossed my mind in half a second. Where was the diamond, how had I lost it, how would I tell Mister Redhead? This story has a very anticlimatic ending: My ring had turned just enough so that I was feeling the side of the setting, not the top. The diamond was still securely in place. No heart attacks were had.

But funnily enough, no financial questions entered my mind in that split second. None. Even though my wedding ring is probably my most expensive possession, the sentimental and symbolic meaning far outweighs the pricetag. It's for those reasons I would have been devastated had I lost it, not the money lost.

In fact, I have no idea how much my ring is worth. I know how much stupid things like the ironing board cost, but I can't come up with even a ballpark range for my ring. This is partly because Mister Redhead surprised me with engagement ring (so I had no part in the shopping experience). Sometime between then and now, he showed me the paperwork for it, which said the price. That number glossed right over my brain. It's nowhere to be found in there now. Is it possible I block out the monetary value of sentimental objects? I mean, I was never one of those girls who thought a guy should spend three months salary on a ring (or whatever the rule is), but I usually remember the rough value of things. It's kind of an odd phenomenon to me. I suppose it's better I'm not aware if how much this bauble on my ring finger is worth; it would freak me out.

But what about you guys? Do you know how much your ring is worth? Do you want to know? Or do you block out the value like I do?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Deal alert!

Have $1.50? You could buy a bottle of pop, do half a load of laundry...or get a yearlong subscription to Glamour. In honor of the mag's 70th birthday (pretty amazing, isn't it?), you can get 12 issues for $1.50 (the cost in 1939). That's 12.5 cents an issue. I am doing this. The offer expires March 15, so head over to Glamour now to cash in.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Problem: My iPod froze

Has this ever happened to anyone? I was walking along this morning listening to The Wallflowers' "One Headlight" (yes, it was a '90s-throwback-type morning) when all of the sudden, my iPod Nano starts skipping. Um, CDs skip, records skip, but digital music files generally don't skip, right? I looked at the screen, and it was all white. Pressed a lot of buttons, but nothing would make the skipping noise go away or make the screen function. I couldn't even turn it off.

I figured leaving it like that all day would eventually wear the battery down, but when I got home tonight it was still making that wretched sound. Plugging in the charger didn't do anything. I was 10 seconds away from putting the iPod on a shelf and bidding farewell to it, coming to terms with the fact that it died, when I thought to turn to Google. Duh. Following the simple directions on Method Shop (holding down the "menu" and "center" buttons for 10 seconds), I resuscitated my iPod!

Now, technically I wouldn't have been out any money had my iPod actually been done for. My little sister, The College Blonde, kindly gave me her castoff iPod when I was home for The Blonde's wedding (don't ask me how or why she acquired two iPods, or why my younger sister is giving me hand-me-down gadgets). But I still would have been really mad if it died. I'm just getting attached to it!
Lesson learned: Gadgets can be fixed, sometimes with very little effort. Google can help.