Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 2 2010

Thought of the Day

The following is an article I wrote for the personal finance blog right about the time I stopped writing for them. I never submitted it and it's never been published. I've been hoarding this article for a year, and it's time to let it out into the world. Unfortunately, the topic of the post is as relevant today as it was a whole year ago. Oy!

It's a monster out there. I have created a monster, just for the sake of frugality, of keeping a few extra dollars in my own pocket, I now have something I can barely face. When I must, and I know that day will come, I will dread it.

The story goes something like this: My husband hates recycling. I've been trying for years to turn recycling into something that is natural not only for me but for him. Different bins, different locations, different methods. Certain things we recycle and certain things we don't. I manage to keep up after him, but it's still an ever-present thing.

About a year ago a coupon book came in the mail advertising five cents more a pound for aluminum. This peaked his interest and gave us some direction. It's pretty easy to drive some aluminum cans to a place not a whole mile away. We started saving our aluminum. Instead of hauling it to the curb with the recycling we have to pay to have picked up, we figured we could offset that cost by taking the aluminum downtown. It turns out, we are not very prompt people. Our pile grew. We added to that the full bag of crushed cans my mother-in-law accumulates in a month. And our aunt's aluminum. Bags came home and overflowed a box. A big, wooden box.

One day I loaded up the car to take them down to the metal recycling place. Before I took off, I decided to call around and make sure the coupon which came in every coupon book was the best deal. It wasn't, and the recycling place with the best deal wasn't open that day. So I waited. The next day was not convenient. Nor the next. Then the kids and I went (in the car without the aluminum, the seats in that car were all taken) to the recycling center for a field trip. I learned that the aluminum prices are greater during the winter. I came home and removed the cans so we could use the car again, and waited for winter.

Unfortunately, with winter came snow, and buried my bags of cans. As spring approached, I was faced with a big, wet pile of aluminum cans. All for a few cents a pound more, I'll have to spend several hours of a day to rebag, dump, and reload all my cans.

Is it really a small price to pay? Is it worth it?

I start to wonder --as the idea of going out there and "taking care" of my aluminum recycling haunts me-- if there are more things I am doing for the sake of saving money that are really just causing me stress and extra work. It is not pleasant to hoard. What is it? My quiet desperation to revive my xeriscape and kill my weeds every summer? The piano that isn't tuned because I don't own the tools? The sacks of things to fix in my basement because throwing them away and replacing them is out of the question?

It would not cost me any more to put the cans on the curb with the rest of the recycling, but it will cost me time and gas to load them up and drive them down.

Tomorrow is recycling day. I can't...let...go...


Heather In Progress said...

For some things, less time and stress is worth a little extra money, like buying all my groceries at one store instead of shopping around for the cheapest this and that at three or four different places. For other things, I'd prefer to save money even if it's a little less convenient or snazzy, like shopping at the Goodwill. I guess you just have to find your own line!

June 02, 2010

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