Fru Gal

The adventures of a Frugal Gal as she seeks the best that little money can buy.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Mark Twain wrote, "If you don't like the weather in New England, wait a minute." But even his resolve would be strained by the incessant rain this fall. New Englander's who are questioned about how they can bear to live in such a harsh climate usually respond, "but you should see it in the fall." Fall is our season: cerulean skies, trees aflame with color, perfect 60 degrees that make sweater wearing so chic.

But this fall we've had rain, rain and more rain, day in and day out. Weather in the teens, and snow flurries on October 29th. You can imagine, the SG has not been happy. After all, he moved to New England in the fall, and was impressed by how much it lived up to the hype. The apples really were that crisp, there really was frost on the pumpkin.

Finally, there was a respite yesterday. As if the movie director had shouted "Action", the clouds parted and the blue sky shone. The leaves that hadn't given up the ghost, turning from green to brown, shook themselves out in yellows and oranges. The SG and I decided to take a drive to nearby Concord, Massachusetts ("Seat of the Revolution!"). Its downtown is a picture postcard, wide porches and brick fronts. We walked through the historic cemetery, its gravestones decorated with winged skulls. We bought a pumpkin and some cider, I'd packed a picnic lunch. All told, we spent $14 (not including gas, see blow). It was a cheap date, and SG's review "Now this is more like it." Historic Concord saved the day, and SG's mood.

The gas isn't cheap here (is it anywhere?), but the bite was less severe thanks to www.gasbuddy.com. We typed in our zipcode and immediately found that within ten miles, the cheapest gas was at Gas with a Smile, $2.45 for regular unleaded. It's one of those rare stations where you cannot serve yourself, which just added to the experience of total relaxation in the warm sunshine.

You should see this place in the fall.....

Friday, October 21, 2005

I love missingmoney.com

I love missingmoney.com. This free, web clearing house for the unclaimed funds departments of over 20 states is a great hour of surfing fun. Just go to their site, type in your name, or the name of someone you know, and voila, a list of money that may belong to them.

Since I started my habit of checking in every other month or so, I've found friends and family a total of $3,200. Most of the checks have been small, $50 to $100, but in June I made the big score, finding my cousin Lisa $1,500. Woo woo!

It takes about ten weeks from the time I let someone know they're on the website, to the time the check arrives from the state. And while missingmoney.com doesn't present all states, they do have links to every state Office of the Treasurer, so you can skip over to those sites and search.

Where does the money come from? Why is it on the site? I can tell you the one time I found myself, ($113) it was a travel reimbursement from an old job. Instead of sending it to my home (the bastards) they turned it over to the state. Who knew they were so bitter about losing me?

And I love finding money for other people and letting them know about it. It's my chance to feel like a wealthy philanthropist, scattering $100 bills over the people I know and love. Last night I poured a glass of wine, logged on, and spent a happy hour surfing. I found money for SG's aunt, my old boss, and my cousin Kevin.

So check it out!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Fru Gal and The Southern Gentleman

This summer I married my Southern Gentleman (SG). He was lured to Harvard on a fellowship and after two years of dating gave up the fair South to stay with me in the frozen North.

He loves me, he does not love New England. He endures New England. He puts up with it for my sake. But it doesn't have to be that way.

This blog launches my one woman attempt to win him over, to woo him with New England's many frosty charms. And to do so on the cheap.

Because in addition to having no money (do you know any part-time writers, part-time grad students, part-time school admins that do?) I'm also a dyed in the wool Yankee. And there's one thing you should know about Yankees. We treat dollars like rubber bands - ssstttreeetch.

In other words, we're cheap.

My Dad put it this way to an Irish cousin fond of calling us "The Yanks".

Dad - Thomas did you make your confirmation?
Thomas - I did.
Dad - Did you make any money at your confirmation?
Thomas - I did.
Dad - Do you still have that money?
Thomas - I don't.
Dad - Well then, you're not a Yankee.

So that's the game - to find what there is to love in New England on little to no money.
Streeeeetch!