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Alltop - Top Frugality News

Alltop - Top Frugality News

More ways to save. Thanks, alltop.

October 9th, 2008

The Silver Lining: Five Ways To Make the Crash Pay for Itself

Hey beautiful people,

Like everyone else, I've been thinking about the economy. This week I've been identifying with my paternal grandmother, who grew up during the Depression. All us grandchildren used to laugh when she emptied the sugar packets from restaurant tables into her purse, and moved her money from bank to bank to get a free toaster or portable television for opening an account.

On my mother's side, my uncles rolled pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters every couple of months, and then took the rolls to the bank to change into dollars. My mother and her siblings were all about paying for things outright, too. Credit was for people who didn't understand the system, who lacked restraint, who would one day lose what they owned because if you owed on it and couldn't pay, well, that was that.

And they had already, as black sharecroppers in the Jim Crow south, lost enough.

So I'm wondering how we can use the current economic crisis as motivation to change our generation's behaviors for good. If my son can look back on this moment as the turning point in species sustainability, this economic nightmare will have officially earned a silver lining.

You all might be way ahead of me, but here's what I've come up with so far:

1. Macro: Let's push for what Van Jones calls the "green collar economy" in his book of the same title. We can use the current energy crisis as the impetus to completely transform our domestic business model. Instead of an ever-expanding prison industrial complex, let's have an ever=expanding environmental industrial complex. We can create American jobs, train skilled workers, and propel our nation to surplus and eco-sustainability without leaving at-risk youth, working class people whose jobs have gone overseas, or regular middle-class Americans behind.

Micro: I'm slowly acclimating my family to the idea of getting our power from the sun and wind. We use solar panels during the day for showers, but I've also got solar chargers for the Blackberry and I'm working on getting one for the laptop. Solar chargers have a long way to go, and at the moment the cost benefit isn't there, but the shift in mindset is crucial. It's mind-blowing to see it takes a full day of direct sun to charge my Blackberry.

2. Macro: Take greater accountability for our health so we don't have to rely on the medical industrial complex for wellness. More than exercising and eating right, this means incorporating exercise into our workplaces--like the Google campus and so many other future-forward companies have--and turning our mind on while we exercise. Mind and body are one, and real health is more than the absence of illness.

Micro: I'm looking into HSA's, or Health Savings Accounts. I've just written how they work ten different ways and none of them made sense, so I'm just going to give you this link to start your research. Switching from regular private health insurance to a tax-free Health Saving Account invested in the market over the next twenty years could reduce health insurance costs by more than half--and help build a nest-egg for the future.

3. Macro: Develop a better relationship to credit. The US is 300 billion dollars and counting in debt to the Chinese government alone. Now is the time to get into CASH. I know Suze Orman has been telling us this forever (and so have our parents), but it seems to make even more sense right now, as the crisis swirled around a potential credit freeze.

Micro: It's actually liberating. I was zipping through the airport last week and instead of whipping out the plastic, I handed over the green. It felt GREAT. I knew I wouldn't see some crazy airport charges on my statement, long after the mags and bottle of water had been consumed. Of course, that doesn't mean shutting down credit cards--we still need those, but it does mean using them less.

4. Macro: Re-thinking the way we look at food, in terms of basic proteins and healthy fats.

Micro: When I heard the price of grain was skyrocketing and countries are facing rice shortages, I bought huge sacks of rice for my house. Also cases of beans. Rice and beans are a perfect protein. If the economy collapses and food can't make it to the island, or the fuel tax on imported goods is out of this world, we could eat rice and beans for weeks and maintain good health. Throw on a little Bragg's and an avocado from the tree and you've got yourself a perfect meal.

I should mention that when I raised this around the dinner table, everyone's eyebrows went up--they think I'm extreme, but as far as I'm concerned, better to be safe than sorry.

And finally,

5. Macro: This is a time for giving what you can, receiving what's coming your way, and believing in amazing abundance.

Micro: I've been going through closets and putting everything I don't need, use, or deem essential into bags to drop at shelters, clothing recyclers, and anywhere else they may do some good. Even and especially "the good stuff" because, well, who doesn't deserve the good stuff?

I'm also working on getting better at receiving the non-material essentials--love, advice, gratitude, admiration, affection, hugs, you name it, if it spreads goodwill, I'll take it. Even if the sky doesn't fall, and it looks like it probably won't, there's no better time to remember that true wealth is being loved, understood, and respected for who you are.

How are you making lemonade out of lemons?

October 6th, 2008


October 4th, 2008

Men: the new misfits

This is for all the beautiful people who came to hear me at St Louis University last night. It's a great follow-up piece to my talk: Barack Obama, Al Gore, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Revolutionizing Masculinity for the 21st Century.


October 1st, 2008

Double Blood, Greater Good Magazine

Double Blood

September 17th, 2008


Like many biracial Americans of my generation, my parents met in the
tumultous cultural revolution of the 1960s. They married when it was
illegal for people of different races to do so, and continued to challenge
entrenched assumptions about race by having me. It was dangerous work.The Klan threatened our interracial family in Mississippi often. My father's Jewish mother disowned him for marrying a black woman.

September 17th, 2008

Hurt feelings "worse than pain"

For everyone who has ever been told their feelings don't matter; that they should shut up and be quiet; that at least they haven't been beaten; that they should just "get over it" and move on.

Hope you've recovered from the incredible DNC party last night. I'm planning to write a post on it today. Check back later.

Peace and love,

August 29th, 2008

It was so Summer 2008.

Hi beautiful people! Sorry to post this so late!

I know there's a lot to talk about. The miraculous Michael Phelps, inspiring Lolo Jones, and breathtakingly beautiful Huang Shansan and her fellow trampolinists, to start.

Then there is Georgia and Russia.

And, of course, the economy.

I went to the mall a few days ago to buy a bathing suit for Tenzin. It was so cheap! I looked at the tag. Made in China. Then I went to the farmer's market and bought ten ears of corn. It was so expensive! The farmer said, "Locally grown, costs more."

Today I went to make sure Tenzin was sleeping and not chasing geckos at naptime.

I opened his door and found a delirious, somersaulting, almost-four-year-old boy hard at work paper-clipping all of my credit, debit, gift, frequent flier, health insurance, and drivers license cards to assorted stuffed animals, blankets, and pieces of furniture.

It was a post-modern installation piece: a room full of debt, a house of cards. He had found my wallet and was tearing a hole in it. It was expressly American, it was my Visa to enlightenment. It was, "Money can't buy you love" and it was "Child paper-clipping your credit cards to rocking horse? Priceless." It was rich. It was tragic.

It was so August 2008. When an ear of corn cost two dollars.

I stood thinking about Georgia, the trampolinists, and the sixty-five dollars it was going to take to fill up my gas tank tomorrow. I thought about all the people with no gas tank to fill up. No corn to buy.

I thought about the interview Obama gave upon return from Hawaii.

When asked what to do about all the unspeakable horrors going on in our world, Barack said the most important thing we can do is talk about them, and acknowledge, in a forthright way, they exist. We can't pretend nothing is wrong. We need to be able to look, to allow, to let down our defenses so that we can see. So that we can feel, and move from there.

Which is what I think we all need to do right about now. Not so much that we totally lose it, but just enough so we don't totally lose it.

Things are not okay in the world, and they haven't been for a very, very long time. It's not pretty, but it's the truth. And we can't change what we won't look at, and we won't look at what we think we can't change, which means we have to either look or set our hair on fire.

And if we did that, who would take care of the children?

Power to the people.

Each and every one of us.



August 26th, 2008

Clinton Democrats My "Catharsis"

Hey beautiful ones,

I'm writing a piece on the convention and in researching, I found the Puma site, with pieces like these.

August 24th, 2008

Seydou Keita: Conjurer of Images

For all the people who wrote about the photo from yesterday's post--here's more on Seydou Keita, one of my all-time favorite artists.


August 15th, 2008

McCommunism: The Opening Ceremony

Okay, you know I have to talk about the Opening Ceremony.

Not because the humanistic aspirations of the Chinese people aren't real and true and moving.

But because the political aspirations of the Chinese government are more disturbing than the last eight years of US foreign policy.

Here's what Naomi Klein wrote about the Olympics this year:

"These Olympics are the coming out party for a disturbingly efficient way of organizing society, one that China has perfected over the past three decades. It is a potent hybrid of the most powerful political tools of authoritarianism communism -- central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance -- harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism. Some call it "authoritarian capitalism," others "market Stalinism," personally I prefer "McCommunism."

If I had been twittering while watching the Opening Ceremony, instead of driving everyone in my house crazy exclaiming over every little thing, this is how my twitter log would read:

That's a lot of technology. That's a lot of money. This ceremony is really long. This is like a super creative military exhibition. The Americans are really rocking the Ralph Lauren. Cheerleaders in white go-go boots, fifteen male athletes to every female athlete? Thank goodness for Patsy Mink and Title IX.

How can every country be represented except Tibet? What about the priceless Buddhist teachings destroyed by Chinese military? My teacher's teacher shot and killed? The Tibetans watching this and weeping? All the Chinese dissidents being tortured at this moment? What about China's rapidly developing relationship with Africa--taking oil, selling guns?

What's up with George Bush looking at his watch? He probably doesn't have the option of opting out of attendance. Perhaps because the US owes China over 400 billion dollars. Or because our economy is based on cheap Chinese imports. Or because America is 300 million citizens strong to China's 1.3 billion. They can raise an army the size of our entire nation and leave a billion civilians at home.

I'm glad my friend Julia, owner of Little Pim, is sending a Chinese foreign language DVD for Tenzin.

Did they say that little boy went back to save his friends trapped in the earthquake because it was his responsibility? Because he was a hall guard? That little boy is a symbol, not just for China, but for humanity. At every moment, we can choose to do the right thing. That's our only hope. Except that...our only hope was just appropriated by McCommunism.

Am I right?

I know you're busy--but I'd love to read even a few of your thoughts.

August 10th, 2008