Thursday, January 12, 2012

Up Up and AWAY!!!!

My super hero power is thriftiness.  Really, I am not kidding.  If there is something that I need to purchase my natural thought process is:  How can I get it for free?  Can I barter for it?  Can I get it with membership reward points?  Does someone I know have it and would they like to sell it?  If those are not options than my next thought is: How do I get it the least expensive way?  I will then google it, check it out on Ebay and cross reference to see  if I should by it new or used.  Once I have done my online research then I will physically go to or call the stores in my area and see what their price is on the item.  It is extremely rare for me to pay full price for anything and before you call TLC and sign me up for an intervention show, I just want you to know that I am well aware that this is an area that my OCD tendencies exacerbate themselves. 

Anyway...my latest jackpot is that I bartered with a friend for housekeeping.  One of my favorite luxuries is a house keeper.  When hubby and I were both working outside of the home this is something I took for granted.  It was the first thing to go when we had to trim the budget to accommodate the loss of my teacher salary.  I do not mind to clean and funny enough when #1 was a an infant I cleaned a few houses a month to bring in some extra money.  I did not mind cleaning when I could clean the whole house top to bottom uninterrupted and then know that it would stay pretty much clean until the next week but once we started adding little darlings to our family the cleaning became a mental battle.  Why clean it if they are just going to mess it up before I finish the next room??  I also came to the realization that I don't have time to bathe and clean during nap. Which should I chose?  And, I can not even imagine a bathroom staying clean for more than a few hours.  Seriously.  How hard can it be to get the pee and poo only in the toilet only?  Not the seat, not the wall, not the toilet paper holder, not the door knob and sure as heck not the stairwell wall!  So when I learned that a friend of mine from church cleaned houses I began brainstorming a way to create a partnership.

I knew that it needed to be a win/win agreement.  What I came up with was I would cook her family size entrees and freeze them.   On the day she comes to clean she could take them with her.  I tossed this idea to her and she was interested and wanted to discuss it more.  We met for coffee and ironed out the details.  First she looked at my house and determined what she would charge me to clean it.  I then created a menu and what I would sell that item for if I were selling it to the public.  She them took the menu and ordered items up to that amount.  She also liked the idea of taking one meal hot and ready.  So, our deal was made.  She would come clean, and when she left, she would take one hot and ready meal and the rest would be frozen in professional grade freezer containers that keep the food fresh for up to 6 months.  We would do this every Wednesday and could renegotiate the deal at any time if it was not working for one of us.

Yesterday was our first swap.  I can not even tell you how glorious it was.  When I pulled into the drive way after picking #1 up from guitar lessons I made the kids stay in the car.  I told them that no one was allowed to get out until mama checked the house.  I went inside, walked through the house, sat down on stairway and cried.  My whole house was pristine and I was just able to walk in, relax and enjoy.  I dialed my friend up immediately to gush about how wonderful she was, but before I could get a word in she was bowling me over with gratitude for the meals.  LOVE CONNECTION.  We both felt like we were getting the better end of the deal.

I hung up the phone and enjoyed the serenity for about 30 more seconds and then went to the garage to get the kids.  I made them leave their bags in the van and come with me.  We walked through the whole house oooing and awwwing at the clean.  We talked about what a great trade Ms. Mishelle and mama had made and what #1 and #2's responsibilities in the trade would be.  For example, it is not part of the trade for Ms. Mishelle to be their maid.  We are only trading for deep clean.  That means that all of their chores have to be done by Wednesday morning and the bleach wipes under the bathroom sink are for "misses".  I want them to realize that our two families are in a partnership and we all need to work together to nurture that partnership and keep it healthy.  I then sent them to the van to get their stuff and reminded them to put things where they go.

The house stayed immaculate for about 30 minutes before dinner, homework, play and general life began to ooze over the clean.  I am fine with that, and my husband will table the idea for now of sending me to the funny farm for being OCD.  The benefits of my thrifty powers are just too big!  I mean wouldn't you walk out of a store empty handed if you knew that the store a mile away had your item for $2 less?  It is just common sense really.  :)

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