Frugal Living 

Gevalia Coffeemaker Goes Kaput!

GevaliaLast week, I went through my usual routine of making coffee in the morning. After filling the water reservoir and putting ground coffee in a filter in the basin, I ran upstairs to do some work. A few minutes later, I noticed that I couldn’t smell any coffee. Usually after a few minutes I could smell the rich flavor of glorious coffee wafting through the home, but today that smell was gone. I walked downstairs and, to my horror, saw that the coffeemaker hadn’t made any coffee. The green “On” light was lit but the pot was empty! Try as I might, and this included opening it to see if there was an obvious problem but I couldn’t see one, I couldn’t get it to brew (or even heat up the platter). Boo! I need coffee! 🙁

Sadly, I believe my coffeemaker is kaput.

The solution? I had two. I could either go to the local Wal-Mart/Target/Similar store and spend $20 on a coffeemaker (or buy this Mr. Coffee DRX5 4-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker and not leave my house)… or I could try Gevalia Kaffe again. I opted to go the route of the Gevalia Kaffe trial because for $15 you get a decent coffeemaker and two half-pound bags of coffee. The last time I tried two types of flavored coffee, because I’d never had flavored coffee before, but was less than pleased with it (nothing against Gevalia though, I think I just enjoy normal coffee).

The last time I did it, the offer was for a free coffeemaker and a travel mug for $5. The offer isn’t as sweet this time, this time I got a fancier looking 12 Cup Programmable Stainless Steel Coffeemaker (an estimated $100 value! Wow!), a Stainless Steel Coffee Scoop (a $10 value! Wow!), and two half pounds of coffee for $14.95 shipped. The two types I chose were French Roast and Le Procope, a choice from their European Coffeehouse Collection named after a fabled cafĂ© in Rome (how could I not try it???).

Update: The offer for a free coffeemaker is part of a trial for their coffee-by-mail program. I’ll have to cancel my membership if I want to avoid getting coffee by mail and pay subscription fees.

I’m a fan of coffee, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not about to spend $20,000 on a coffeemaker. 🙂

(Photo: woo-hoo)

 Personal Finance 

Act Your Age (Financially)

When I was young, I used to write a fake company name on all sorts of papers to make it look like my company stationary, like I was this big swinging successful entrepreneur like Andrew Carnegie. We’d play football in the streets and pretend to be Joe Montana throwing yet another touchdown pass to Jerry Rice. We tackle each other in the field and pretend we were LT (no, not Ladainian Tomlinson, the real LT, Mr. Lawrence Taylor) getting Joe Theisman, minus the snapping leg. The point is, when we were young we’d fantasize of a time when we’d be older and in situations that were fantastic (and, in the case of football, unlikely to happen too!). This is something that, for a lot of people, we never grew out of and that ultimately impacted our finances.

Well, I’ve been wanting to get a coffee grinder since we brought back some Kona coffee beans from our honeymoon. This item is a $20 little gadget that takes beans and turns them into powder that I can used in my free Gevalia coffeemaker (haha!). I was talking to Cap about it when he asked if I already had it (then he told me coffee was bad, fish don’t sleep, and that he doesn’t drink juice either — he’s quite the eclectic conversationalist), I expected him to tell me it was crap and that I shouldn’t buy it! That’s when I suggested that a coffee bean grinder is a luxury good, it’s an item that exists simply because man’s desire for a theoretically better product (freshly ground coffee) has created a device that will deliver it to him for a small price (fixed price of $20). It’s $20 that I feel is “beyond my age,” which I’ll explain momentarily, but one I’m still going to spend.

If you imagine that everything you buy is on a “path,” then you’ll want to progress on this path in a nice orderly and chronological way. The prime example is a car. If you work during high school and college, save for a car, you’ll probably get a “beater” or otherwise inexpensive car because that’s what you can afford. The point is to get from point A to point B in a means faster than by foot or by bicycle (or by parent). Knowing the awfulness that is a beater helps you appreciate the awesomeness that is a car that doesn’t need a rolling start. Unfortunately, some people get the benefit of their parents’ finances and get a beamer (BMW), rather than a beater. Those kids also, in many cases, seem to have much higher expectations of what the world is supposed to do for them (this is not a good thing). Those kids were supposed to go down this “transportation path” but were spiked in somewhere farther than they were supposed to be, thus causing them developmental harm.

For coffee, the path is less clear but I see it as: instant coffee, ground coffee & coffeemaker, whole bean coffee & coffeemaker & coffee grinder, etc (I’ll let you know when I get there). I know that ground coffee made from a coffeemaker is better than instant coffee (not that much better, but I’m a lazy person) because I drank instant coffee, perhaps I’ll find whole bean coffee, freshly ground, will be better than regular ground too. The point is, I may appreciate the luxury because I’ve had the regular or the economy versions, not because someone told me it was so much better.

What’s my point? My point is that so many people don’t follow the path from the beginning or time warp through the journey to a point in the future. They get a job and their first thought is to buy a luxury vehicle because they see executives driving them and they want to be a big shot. They see football players with enormous televisions on MTV Cribs and they want an enormous house with a pool and a pool table. They see the luxury brand names being worn by celebs and they want to feel special too so they break the bank getting LV. What funds all this? Credit.

The result is that many people fund their relatively lavish lifestyles on credit and then end up in thousands of dollars of debt. There’s value, both financially and developmentally, for following the path in an orderly fashion and not jumping farther down. You can’t skip your teenager years and you shouldn’t skip drinking instant coffee (it’s really not bad at all), enjoy the bad so you can truly enjoy the good (and not be in debt!).

 Frugal Living 

Breathe New Life Into Old Things: My Coffeemaker

We live in a disposable society. We’ve gotten so used to everything being so cheap that we often think about replacement before we think about refurbishment, which is great for companies but bad for our budget and our environment. I experienced this first hand a month ago when I pulled out my coffeemaker to make a cup of coffee.

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