Summer of the hat

People change over time, and I am no different. I’ve gotten tired of regular haircuts and spending money on hair dye so I am now allowing my mop to go back to normal.

Okay, I confess: my inner cheapskate is screaming for mercy — she has been throwing a fit over cuts and hair dye for months and I’m tired of hearing her complain.

I look a bit odd with my shaggy hair and faded color these days so I have declared this the Summer of the Hat. If I’m not wearing my cap at work I don a denim one that I’ve used on bad hair days for years.

In a month or so I plan to get it shaped up a bit, with the goal of going back to the old hairstyle you can see here:


When it reaches that length it won’t be a problem to keep it trimmed myself.

I’m looking forward to ponytails again.

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Touched by Katie

This morning while I planned my day I was surprised to hear the alarm go off in my daughter’s room. I watched curiously as she stumbled into the kitchen and plopped down at the table.

“Why are you up so early?” I asked.

She blinked sleepily at me. “I wanted to say ‘good morning’ and give you a hug before you went to work,” she responded. She then got up from her chair, walked around the table, gave me a gentle hug, and went back to bed.

I’m so touched that I’m still blinking tears from my eyes.

Has something unexpected touched you lately? Please share your story in the comments below.

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Car Free and Fed up

After my race to get to work I decided that enough was enough–it was time to do some serious bike shopping. After I finished my shift I walked over to Walmart in search of a bicycle, any bicycle, to make the daily trek easier.

I lucked out. I found a 24″ mountain bike with Shimano gears and nice cantilever brakes for $79.99. It was the only one left so I snapped it up and rode it home.

I’m quite proud. Not only did I find a bike in the proper size, I spent about half of what I was afraid I would have to pay locally. Since normally these bikes cost $169 and up, it was quite the steal.

I’ll worry about a bike rack later.

20150526 bike

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Mailbag: How much clothing should I buy?

A reader asks: How much school clothing should I purchase for my child since I expect a growth spurt during the year?

Growth spurts can be a nightmare for frugal parents. You spend a fortune on a whole new wardrobe, only to have them grow out of it before the items are broken in. When I was young, my parents solved this dilemma by purchasing clothes that were a bit larger than I needed; this allowed me to get more use out of my wardrobe before they were forced to shop for another.

I do the exact same thing for my children. While I only have Katie at home these days, I occasionally purchase clothing for my elementary-school-aged grandson. I always buy a size larger than he wears so that the item will last a bit longer.

As for how much I purchase, at the beginning of every school year I purchase 2-3 pairs of pants, 3-4 shirts, socks, and underclothing. If I haven’t had to purchase a pair of shoes for her over the summer, these are added to the list as well. Here is a post detailing last year’s back to school purchases.

I hope this helps!

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Announcement: The Car Free Experiment is now available for Preorder

I am proud to announce that my latest book, The Car Free Experiment, will go live on October 1st and is now available for preorder on Smashwords. It will be available at other retailers soon, so stay tuned! UPDATE: The book is now available for preorder at AppleKobo and Barnes and Noble.

Car free experiment cover jpg

Within the pages of this book you will not just read about my personal experience of living without a vehicle, you will also discover:

  • Advantages and disadvantages of the car free lifestyle
  • Transportation alternatives
  • Tips and tricks for making alternate forms of transportation work for you.

And most importantly,

  • Can living without a car really save you money?

This book is not designed to necessarily promote the car free lifestyle; instead it was written to help you make an informed decision if you have ever wondered what it would be like to live without a car in Small Town America.

To thank you for your support, I have a few treats for anyone who orders a pre-release copy of this book:

  • Preorder copies are priced at $1.99. The book will go up to $2.99 when it is released so buy today to save.
  • Readers who send me a copy of their preorder receipt by September 1st will receive a FREE copy of my book “The No Poo Experiment.”
  • Also, any reader who sends me a copy of their preorder receipt by September 1st will be listed in the Acknowledgements section of the book in a personal thank you to my biggest fans.

Thank you again for your support.

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The Car Free Hustle

Yesterday morning I became so engrossed in my writing that I came up for air 30 minutes before I was due to clock in at work.

It takes 35 minutes to walk there.

Thankfully the dogs had already went out for their morning potty break so I grabbed my messenger bag and dashed out the door. I jogged the whole 1.8 miles and made it with five minutes to spare.

Sometimes walking sucks.

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Yesterday while I was busy writing a friend of mine started blowing up my phone. Annoyed, I finally took the call.

A mutual friend’s layout was starting in a few minutes. Did I want to ride with her to pay my final respects?


Wait, what?

I have been so focused, so determined to write that I had completely missed the fact that my friend had died.

How do you miss something like that when you live in the same town?

I hurriedly got dressed and climbed into her car. “I can’t believe you didn’t know,” she told me in amazement as we drove to the funeral home.

“I’ve been writing.”

“Yeah, but you’ve been working as well. Didn’t anyone say something at work?”

I racked my brain but came up blank. Either no one mentioned it or my tunnel vision caused me to miss it.

I broke down when I saw his body. Never again would I see his bright, beautiful eyes. No more would I hear him say that he was singing “Annie’s song” as he belted out Angel Eyes. Never again would I feel the love from the hugs he gave me.

And I almost completely missed his passing.

Things like this make me wonder if I’m too focused on my goals. I ended up taking the entire evening to mourn him and come to terms with what had happened.

He wasn’t even 30 yet.

As I cried myself to sleep I could hear Sean’s voice soothing me. “I lived a great life, Annie — don’t feel bad because you’re busy living yours.”

This next book is for you, my friend.

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Uniforms and Laundry

Since I’ve started wearing a uniform to work I’ve noticed that our laundry has decreased significantly. While Katie’s laundry levels haven’t changed, mine has dropped a sizable amount. I generally only have my two uniforms (they finally gave me a second shirt), one “at-home” outfit that I don for sleeping after I bathe, and one “public” outfit that I wear when I run errands on my days off.

My underclothing level has stayed the same, of course!

I never expected for my laundry needs to go down with this position but it has really dropped. I guess uniforms are good for something after all :) .

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Cloud Nine

The other day at work one of my coworkers approached me. She wanted to know what type of books that I wrote. I explained that I teach people to live better on less by focusing on frugality and minimalism.

Her eyes lit up. “Oh, I know a book you really need to read then! It’s written by a single mother who lives on $500 a month and she is awesome! She has taught me so much — without her book I don’t know how I would manage to raise my kids on what I do! I can’t remember her name, but the book is called The Shoestring Girl and it’s available at the local library.”

My mouth flew open in surprise. “That book wouldn’t be The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too by Annie Jean Brewer, would it?” I asked nervously.

“That’s it! Have you read it?”

For a moment I couldn’t speak. My mouth worked but nothing was coming out. Finally I hit the right gear and choked, “That’s me. I wrote that book.”

“Oh my God, it’s you!” she squealed as she gave me a big hug. She explained that she had seen the book at one of her previous jobs and had purchased a copy for herself. Thanks to my little book she had learned how to make ends meet and have money to spare for the first time since she had had her kids.

My feet have yet to touch the ground.

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Locked out – A Katie Adventure

The other morning as I got ready for work I spotted Katie’s house keys sitting on the kitchen table. She had forgotten them when she went to school.

Knowing that she would need them to get inside I hid them out on the front porch and sent several messages to her iPod telling her where to find them.

Katie didn’t think to check her messages. Instead, she came home and broke into the house with the help of a neighbor. No damage was done — they simply moved the air conditioner out of the way. While the neighbor held the AC, she climbed through the window and put the appliance back in place.

It was only after she got inside that she decided to check her iPod.

My neighbors and I are teasing her still.

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