Nov 10, 2009

Fishy Frugality

I'd like to introduce the love of my life, Ben. He is a great husband and an awesome father.

He also has a fancy for fish and turtles, and pretty much anything amphibious or reptilian.  It is little wonder that Grace's first word was "fish," or that her second word was "turtle".

(That's a toad he found on a hike.)

 Two weeks before our wedding, he found a baby turtle on the side of the road, which he promptly adopted and named Urban, as in the opposite of Rural.  We now have a 29 gallon aquarium with 14 fish and Urbie.
The aquarium is his leisurely pursuit, the way he relaxes.  He is very artistically talented, so he enjoys decorating the tank in natural-like settings.  Unfortunately, this diversion can get a leeeeetle pricey.  Because, ya know, if you have time to spend on fish, you must have the money for it too.  Of course.

Ben hates to waste money almost as much as I do, so we scour Ebay and resale shops for deals and steals.  He has been wanting a canister filter for some time now.  These filters sit outside the tank, leaving the tank uncluttered and more natural, and they are quiet and do a better job of cleaning and filtering.  These little cuties also cost upwards of $200.  That's a month of groceries!  So we waited and watched.  Recently, he found the beauty below for just $25 on Ebay.  It is an older model Fluval 203, but the reviews say they run forever.  And at 1/8 of the price of a new one, we figured it was worth the risk.  However, it looks old and used, and the hoses were cut.  This is not the look Ben wanted to achieve.  So he got creative.  Sometime I'll have to show you all the projects he has made with a table saw, scrap wood, and spray paint.  He's pretty amazing, and the Sunday School kids love it.

He got some spray paint and new plastic hosing at Lowe's.  He refuses to buy aquarium supplies at the pet stores if he can find a similar item at a hardware store.  It appears that if an identical item is at both stores, because the pet store is a specialty shop, they can mark their item 2-3 times higher than elsewhere.

He taped up the canister, so that the metal plate would not be exposed, and he gave the filter a new look.  I was a bit skeptical of his plan, but once he showed me the finished product, I was impressed.  The difference was huge!  The filter now looks brand new.   Seriously, it does.

Frugality really does foster creativity.  That is probably one of the most addicting parts of this lifestyle.  If I ever develop Alzheimer's, it won't be because I didn't keep my mind active.  When I became a stay-at-home mom, one of the (very) few things that I missed was the mental stimulation.  I love crunching numbers and solving problems.  While calculating the reciprocal relation between time spent cleaning the house and time needed to demolish it did interest me, there wasn't much beyond that. 

A creative mind will discover that there is a $.02 difference per bar between buying a 3-bar pack of soap at $1.67 using a $.35 coupon that will double, and buying an 8-bar pack on sale Buy one, get one using 2 coupons that won't double.  In the same way, creativity finds ways to re-use items for other purposes, like spent dryer sheets for dusting cloths.  Or to make a changing table from an older, beat-up computer desk.

Just because you have never seen or heard something done before, doesn't mean you can't try it.  Who knows, maybe you'll stumble on something really amazing.   And not every clever idea may work, but I'm sure some will!  And those that do will empower you to find more productive ways to enrich your life.  Quality of life is not limited to those who have the money to create it, but is available to any and all who will imagine it.  Go Forth and INNOVATE!

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