Thursday, April 3, 2008

Welcome to my Cheapskating Rink

This blog is called Shoplifting With Permission because that's what it feels like when I enter certain stores -- mostly CVS -- armed with a fistful of coupons and little to no money, and walk out the door with bagsful of merchandise. You can hardly call it shopping when you don't pay or even get paid to take stuff out of the store.

I started this blog to chronicle my yearlong experiment in frugal household management. My goal is to significantly cut back on household expenditures to allow my family to more easily live within our means and maybe even save for home maintenance projects, retirement and college.

I also want to show how I'm incorporating frugal living into my personality as a young(ish), urban(ish) fun-loving mom. I'm not religious, I'm not a granny, and though I trend toward the bobo, I am not a homeschooler growing my own cotton from which to weave clothes.

I *am* becoming a compulsive coupon clipper, but I'm not a hoarder -- all purchased goods that we or family members don't use are going right out the door to Freecycle or the local food bank.

I've always been cheap, but since becoming a stay-at-home mom and especially since buying a home, I've had to dive deeper into frugal waters. Hence the advent of coupon clipping, CVS gaming and careful menu planning. That has brought on a wave of self-examination: I used to spend Sunday morning brunching in San Francisco restaurants and drinking $9 mimosas. Now I spend Sundays clipping coupons and planning my week's shopping. Does that mean I've turned into a frumpy housewife?

For me, the answer has been to adjust my self image from geriatric tightwad to 60s-era rebel with raging Jewfro.

That's right, I tell myself, I have not become June Cleaver in her declining years, I have become Abbie Hoffman. Because when I refuse to spend to excess, I am bucking the system. In the 60s, Abbie Hoffman's "Steal This Book" instructed on making your own granola and sneaking onto airline flights. These days, I can get granola for free by combining coupons with grocery store promotions, and I have enough frequent flyer miles to fly anywhere I want.