At the top of the list is auctioning off our most valuable expendables, probably through eBay. I say probably because we haven’t really decided the best way to do this yet. We do have a few collectible items that we’d like to find good homes for, but we want to get a fair market price for them as well. We welcome comments from anyone who has experience in this.
The second tier is to sell things locally, through Craig’s List, consignment shops and yard/garage/thrift sales. We’ve never had much luck with garage sales but our next-door neighbor has. We’ll try to “piggy back” on her next one.
The third tier is one we use a lot – just give the stuff away. We used to just drop stuff off at the Salvation Army or Goodwill but these folks are literally over-run with stuff that didn’t sell at garage sales so we’ve switched our donations to places like a battered women’s shelter for women’s clothes and family items and DAV and St. Vincent de Paul for the rest.
The final tier is to toss it in the trash. We hate to do this, but much of the stuff we toss goes into our local recycling program so it’s not a total loss. Plus, once a year, we can put anything at the curb for pickup, which gives us an opportunity to ditch some larger items. In the early years of the program, trucks circled our neighborhood, picking up the more desirable trash. This year someone picked up an inoperable dual cassette player/recorder and a well-worn frying pan from our front yard.
A big target in our downsizing efforts is anything designed for a single use that can done with something else we have on hand. For instance, my George Foreman grill is headed directly to St. Vincent de Paul. I also have a hot air popcorn popper and electric crepe maker in my sights but am meeting some familial resistance.
I’ll keep working on that.
Lay off the gas, people. One thing the recent oil spill off the Gulf Coast should accomplish is a re-examination of America’s addiction to oil. Here in Iowa we have a 70-mile-per-hour speed limit on our Interstates. It was 65 a few years ago when it was inexplicably raised to accommodate the lead feet among us.
Being the curmudgeonly miser that I am, I rarely drive at 70, preferring to set my cruise control a few miles below that. I get better mileage at the lower speeds and would rather save a bit of oil for my kids until they can sort things out for their post-carbon world. As you might guess, I get passed a lot.
On a recent trip to Council Bluffs (120 miles), I set the cruise control on my Toyota Prius at 68 mph. I passed 10 vehicles, was passed by 37 (a ratio of 3.7 to 1), and got 44.4 miles per gallon. On the return trip, I set the cruise two MPH lower, at 66. I passed six vehicles but was passed by 125 (a ratio of 20.8 to 1) while my mileage improved a bit, to 46.5 MPG. I’d like to try an even lower speed, but fear it might be too dangerous.
Larry Lehmer is a professional personal historian and chief legacy planner at When Words Matter, Ltd., who connects generations through their stories. To learn more, visit his web site, send him an e-mail or follow him on Twitter.