Even before President Obama signed the economic stimulus package Tuesday, I had decided that I could wait no longer. The situation is too dire. Someone must act swiftly and decisively. If the government can't act, the Green Cheapskate must.
The nearly $800 billion package Congress passed strikes me as a tad high, but I did come up with a little over eight bucks in loose change from around the house. I loaded my coinage into a spare athletic sock and headed off to the dollar store. Here's what's in my $8, eco-friendly, economic stimulus package:
Window Insulating Strips: This easy-to-apply insulated adhesive tape will seal up that drafty window in our bedroom in a jiffy. I'll sleep better at night without that chilly breeze blowing on me, and I'll dream of the energy and money I'm saving. Goes well with draft snakes.
Baking Soda & Plain White Vinegar: (A one pound box and a one quart bottle, respectively.) The King and Queen of the Green Cheapskate's cleaning closet. Individually or combined, you can green clean most everything in your house -- and most parts of your body -- with these super cheap, environmentally saintly products.
Refillable Water Bottle: I don't buy bottled water (heck, I don't even buy bottled wine), although my dear wife occasionally imbibes. She admits that it's a matter of convenience, not taste, as our tap water is pure and delicious. Hopefully this refillable bottle will help her break the habit, keep all those throwaway bottles out of the landfill, and save us at least a couple hundred dollars a year.
Lentils (1 pound, dried):I said in an interview in the Boston Globe recently that I consider lentils to be the perfect food -- healthful, delicious, and cheap; a perfect example of the joys of eating lower on the food chain. Another Globe columnist then decided that my lentil worship was worthy of public ridicule. But based on reader response to his op-ed, he learned a painful lesson: Hell hath no fury like the scorn of Lentil Lovers.
Reusable Grocery Bag: My favorite grocery store takes five cents off my bill every time I use one of my own bags, so this investment is a no-brainer. But if you're still not convinced, just watch this video:
Vegetable Seeds: I chose a packet of cherry tomato seeds. I'll start them in my kitchen window in a few weeks, a cheerful reminder that gardening season is on its way, and I'll enjoy their economical bounty all summer long. Viva la Victory Garden!
Best of the Three Stooges DVD: Now that my 401K balance would barely buy a fast food value-meal, I could use a good laugh. And think of how much this one DVD will save me in movie tickets, not to mention the gas to drive to the theater. (Plus, with each passing year, my resemblance to stooge >Larry Fine becomes increasingly uncanny.)
Driving home from the dollar store I was feeling economically stimulated for the first time in many months. I was comforted by the eight items on the seat next to me, and excited about the positive impact they would have on both my personal finances and Mother Earth.
Then it occurred to me: For less than a measly one billion dollars, the U.S. government could buy one of my $8 economic stimulus packages for every American family. Certainly Congress could act with bipartisan unanimity on that modest proposal right now. Or we could all rummage through our sofa cushions and come up with our own $8 in loose change. Either way I doubt that it would solve all of our financial problems, but it might just begin to turn this economic crisis around, one bowl of lentil soup at a time.
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