It's been a busy week.
It's also been a tough week. My asthma has really kicked up and I'm having issues breathing so I'm having to do breathing treatments. It makes me tired having to struggle and coughing so much. But I know it will eventually get better.
I did an art project with the fifth graders I volunteer with this week. We used some fancy yarn that was leftovers from donation yarn that no one could use at church. We made baskets by weaving it in and out of plastic drinking cups I had cut for that purpose. Some of the kids really did a fabulous job. Some decided it was too much work and quit. I had taken in a Gullah basket to show them before I did the project. I spent quite a bit of time getting the cups ready as well as making sure I had enough materials. I hate to sound negative, but I wasn't too shocked that so many kids decided it was too much work to try and do this project. I think it took most of them that finished it about 15 minutes to complete it.
We did get our names put on the list for a new driveway. We have to wait a bit since there are five people ahead of us. I dread the construction and parking in the street, but will be glad to have a smooth, new driveway. We saved almost $8K for it just in case, but the bid came in at $5500. So, we will have money left over to put on the next project we will be saving for. As nice as it is to own our home, there's always something to fix or replace isn't there? Our driveway is original with the house which was built in 1979 so I guess the fact it has lasted this long isn't something to sneeze at. We have a hill so I guess it is a tricky pour.
We finally got our last group of tax papers so our taxes are done! Amen!
I finished the book "Confessions of a Shopaholic" by Sophie Kinsella. I know it is fiction, but I think the author probably nailed the rationalization of why people spend foolishly.
Last night we went to a nearby small town and had dinner at an Amish home. Our friends are friends with this couple and the Amish couple do this every so often to make money. She served it buffet style. And it was amazing. Not good if you are watching calories, but yowza! Fried chicken, meatloaf, pulled pork, lasagna, dressing, chicken and noodles, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, green salad, pickled beets, two types of pickles, cottage cheese, homemade rolls with butter and/or homemade apple butter. And pie. Four different kinds of freshly baked pie. Oh, my! There was a large group besides us and after they all left, she handed my friends and us a container and said take some home! So we brought a few things home for another meal. I'll have to supplement a little bit, but still, that was a great deal. Everything was homemade. What a treat! Not something I'd want to do often though.
I still have some ironing I want to do today after my breathing treatment and before supper. I haven't felt like doing a whole lot, but have been pushing myself to try and get some things accomplished or otherwise when I do get over this, I will be so overwhelmed.
Hope everyone has a good week.
Viewing the 'Personal Finance' Category
It's been a busy week.
My desk looks like it is awash in papers. Egad, I'm getting overwhelmed!
Sunday afternoons are usually bill paying time for the week. So, I have a few things made out and ready to mail. Some other things I paid online.
I have been working on publicity for my church for Holy Week and Easter as well as a rummage sale coming up in June. I am not a procrastinator so I feel better when I have stuff lined up, even if it isn't submitted yet.
Pretty soon I'm taking out the accordion file so I can start organizing tax papers. We don't receive some of our documents until the middle of March. I like to have things organized so when we do get them, we can take them to our tax preparer and get them done quickly. I'm curious how our taxes will look this year since this is the first full year I've been retired. We talked to our tax guy last year and he made some suggestions on what we could do, so hopefully we did what we needed to do so we don't owe a lot.
I have been decluttering a little at a time. We took in a box of really good stuff to church for the rummage sale. Our ladies aren't procrastinators either and have been asking for stuff already so they can get it marked ahead of time. This was the first year they had a "do not donate" list. Unfortunately there are always some people who want to "donate" things that really aren't good stuff, but just a way for them to get rid of junk and not have to deal with it. I checked, none of my donated stuff is on the do not donate list. I crocheted 3 towels for the rummage sale and I pinned the washing instructions from the yarn covers on them so the new owners will know how to take care of them.
Well, back to the papers. Hopefully I will get things straighten up so it doesn't look like a file cabinet exploded.
There are times when truth is truly stranger than fiction. Today's article in the paper proved that. Illinois is hiring a state storyteller to tell the good things going on in education to the tune of $47K.
Illinois has big financial woes. Many of our larger city school districts are low performing. Most school districts that depend on local taxes are hurting big time. Starting salary in my city for a teacher is $39K. Most young teachers can't afford that because they owe so much in loans. Or if they take the much needed job, they live at poverty level if they have a family. Yet, our state is going to hire a storyteller. I'm wondering if this storyteller is going to tell fictional stories because the truth is pretty scary!
In other "factual" news, I almost have the room straightened up where we had the carpeting stretched. The guy showed up, on time, and after he finished, he said the job was more than he anticipated and that he had to restretch the whole room. I asked if he was going to raise the estimate and he said no, that wouldn't be fair to me. He also fixed a closet door in another bedroom because I asked him to show me how the bifold doors worked. He showed me, fixed it. So, I gave him $25 more than he said and he thanked me profusely.
Today I volunteer at school. I am working with some fifth graders on writing. It is sad how poorly they write and spell. A couple of them give me attitude claiming I don't know how to write and I just laugh as I work on their papers with them and correct the many grammatical and spelling errors. One of them said I didn't know what the teacher wanted and i finally told him that I have known the teacher longer than he has been alive, and I was the one who used to demonstrate in this teacher's class the writing model.
Our local paper is raising their rates yet again. This is the second time in a year. We seem to get less for more money and the mistakes continue to escalate. DH loves getting the paper and we can afford it, but it irks me we have to pay more and the quality isn't there.
Last week a weekly local paper in their legal notices listed all the delinquent property taxes in real estate for the year of 2016. I should have kept the paper and tallied up how much the county is owed by these folks. It's no wonder we have problems paying our bills in the county. I always read through it to make sure our names are not in it, in case we weren't credited with our tax bill payment or forgot something. Sadly, I saw names of people I knew. Two couples seem to have their names in it each year. I wonder if they pay the penalty and pay them off or if they are eventually going to have their home sold or auctioned off for taxes.
One couple that I know was listed and it just makes me sad. Their taxes weren't hugely expensive. I don't know the wife, just of her, but I know the mister and he works six days a week. He's 62 years old and he looks twenty years older. He works as a butcher in a chain grocery store -- he has for over 38 years that I know of. We were shopping and I noticed him going through the clearance rack getting some bread, cereal, and some other item, all incredibly marked down for his lunch. I wonder if they are living hand to mouth. It's not anything I would ask. I know he drives an older car so it isn't like he's blowing money on fast automobiles. I also wonder why he doesn't pack a lunch instead of buying something each day unless the store frowns on them bringing lunches.
I sort of wonder what happened in his life. I was in high school when I met him; I was working for Coca-Cola working at grocery stores giving out samples in the late 1970s. He was a butcher then and single, and seemingly doing well. Then our lives separated because I went to college and he was moved to a different store. Then about three years ago he was transferred to the store we frequent and we recognized each other and greeted each other.
I know I'm blessed. I have a wonderful husband and we usually see eye to eye on expenses. We both have pensions and we have money saved. Our home is paid off. And we are enjoying retirement. My friend asked me how I could retire before he did -- he's 8 years old than I. I said I planned for retirement and left it at that. I sort of wonder if that is why they are having problems. I think a big part of life's troubles is due to lack of planning. I realize there are things that happen in people's lives they can't control, but for so many, they grumble about not being able to retire because there was no forethought.
Anyway, it really kind of made me sad thinking of my friend. I hope they get the taxes paid on their home. I don't know them well enough to even inquire about finances. Just someone from my past and my observation.
I was hoping to post that yesterday was a no spend day, but then I remembered I went to the chiropractor and paid my copay of $20. Oh, well. It was well worth it for the adjustment.
When we were going to the thrift shops Friday I did find .11 in the parking lot of one of them. I added it to the coin jar.
DH picked a bunch of peppers over the weekend. I'm slowly using them. When the chiropractor asked if the garden is still going, I said yes and told him about the peppers. He said he was jealous because they are over $1 each at the grocery. I'm sure a freeze will be coming soon, but we are still getting tomatoes.
DH has finally agreed that is OK to have meatless meals once in awhile. It not only saves money on groceries, it also is healthier for us. We rarely eat red meat any more, but I think eating mostly vegetables and fruits is far better. I am going to make spaghetti sauce this afternoon using peppers, onions, and mushrooms, and then I grate Parmesan cheese on top of the spaghetti and sauce on our plates.
I wrote a tough email to a friend. She retired years before me and ever since she retired, she has gotten herself involved into caring for a sick person. First it was her mother-in-law. Then a neighbor. Then her husband, and now an aunt on her husband's side. Part of it is she is way too nice, but part of it is she takes over and then other family members don't step up and she then is upset when people don't help. I can see doing it all for the spouse, but now she is living an hour and ten minutes away from home, and has no free time. She is not happy, but doesn't want to hear she is being taken advantage of. Yet I am not alone in thinking this. Her brother and sister have both told her that and she says she believes when it comes her time to need care, someone will make care of her since she has. Knowing what I know about some of her family, I don't think that is going to be the case. Part of my email pointed out all the times she didn't do stuff when she wasn't doing care taking. Her son and his girlfriend had her doing something for them every day even though it was inconvenient. Her church had her babysitting for church services and although we all appreciate loyal folks, she would give up something fun because she had to babysit. Funny how these folks found replacements now that she isn't available. I'm not saying she should have just left them in a lurch every time, but if something special comes up, cancel and go have a little fun. Right now she is miserable because she has no television, no radio, and she told me her data plan on her phone is at 94% so she can't even get news or email because she doesn't want to go over. She is a better person than I am.
I need to call the furnace folks and have them do the annual check for furnace and air conditioning. That won't be cheap, but I learned the hard way years and years ago. I didn't call and we had a problem and of course it was on a weekend. The service call for the annual check is far more reasonable.
Every week our newspaper prints the real estate transfers that happened in our county. I am always surprised to see some of the prices of the houses and wonder who has the money to buy such expensive houses and maintain them.
I know there are some wealthy folks out there. It is just here in our Central Illinois area, we are still struggling with unemployment and underemployment. According to realtor.com the median home selling price is between $77,000 and $85,000. Yet, so many are selling for over $200K. And some of the folks buying them are people I know who I didn't realize had that kind of money. I realize that many of you live where moderately sized houses go for far more. I'm just talking about prices in my area.
Our home is valued at about $130,000. which is pretty decent...it isn't huge, around 1500 square feet, in a nice neighborhood. We paid $94,000 for it over 18 years ago and we have updated things as we had the money to do so.
I just wonder how some of these people have the money to buy a house for over $200K and then I guess I don't think everyone expects to pay it off. That was our goal from the minute we signed the loan for $50,000 on our house. We paid extra every month to get it paid off. And it is paid off. I remember when we were looking at houses, we went through a house that was pretty nice. I asked the realtor why they were selling and his comment was we would be able to figure it out once we got inside. The living room was sparsely furnished, but we thought they were minimalists. The bedroom was clean and neat and had what we would consider normal amount of stuff in it. Same with the kids' rooms. but the family room...two lawn chairs. That was it. He said they bought the house and found out they couldn't afford it.
A few years ago a friend was talking about buying a house and in our discussion she said she didn't have a big down payment. I commented that we had to have 20% down to buy our first house in 1990 and she said they didn't have to put much down at all. I opened my big mouth and said I think there should be a substantial percentage put down so people don't feel free to walk away since that is one of the big problems we had when the real estate market basically crashed....too many people with too much debt and lots of underwater houses.
DH and I are not risk takers. When we bought this, our second house, we had $44K in equity in our other house so we only had to borrow $50K. The loan officer suggested we buy a bigger, more expensive house and we said no, we didn't want to be "house poor" and not be able to make the payments or save up to fix things up. Our initial house payment was far less than most rent and the interest rate then was over 7 percent. We decided this was it. We weren't planning on moving again unless health dictated it. With that in mind, we updated and probably have over improved the house, but it is to our liking. And we don't owe a penny on the house or the updates.
One of our friends has a big house. They are constantly getting loans from the equity to do things. That scares me...I wouldn't want to put our house in jeopardy to do things like vacations or buy a car. And this person complains any time something has to be done...I just comment and say big house means big bills for heating, cooling, fixing, taxes, insurance, etc.
DH and I admire those big houses. But I'm awfully glad to have a smaller one that we don't owe anything on.
Some folks just love to be in competition.
We recently went out to eat with this couple. I knew what was coming when he asked when our next trip was going to be. He didn't really want to know about us, he just wanted to open up the subject so he could brag about their next trip.
We aren't in competition. We do things because we want to do them and hopefully because they bring us pleasure. It isn't about bragging about them beforehand or afterwards. It is the experience we savor.
As you may know, we just returned from a lovely trip to Branson. We had a nice time. It was long enough to be refreshing, but short enough we were still home in a few days so the garden didn't suffer. We enjoyed the shows, meeting new people on the bus, and we felt it fit our budget.
We save for our trips so even if I put something on the credit card to pay for it, we have the money in our vacation account and we take it out and pay for the trip.
Not so with our friends. Between credit cards, personal loans, and home equity loans, they "finance" their trips. They have told us they are still paying for a major family vacation from three years ago. They will be leaving soon for another big ten day vacation and after that will be going on another vacation. I'm glad for them; they are better travelers than we and have been to more places, both in the U.S. and out of it. I'm not trying to be in competition with them.
We bought a new car last spring. It was a planned purchase. We put down a large downpayment and did finance a small amount because our credit scores have taken a hit since we had no outstanding debt. This person was almost grouchy when he learned about our new car. We didn't buy it to impress. In fact, it is just a newer model of the car we have that is now our second car. We bought it because we wanted it and we take pleasure in driving it.
I guess I'm not a very competitive person. I am not into bragging rights and such. I get it as far as contests and sports. But in real life. what a waste of time and energy. No one lives the same way.
Are we alone or are there people in your life who are always in the one upmandship mode?
In our newspaper this week in the business section was an article stating that people are finding it harder to become rich.
One thing that bothers me about an article like this is they don't define what "rich" is. If it means being a multi-millionaire, or someone who had a decent savings and retirement.
I read it and grumbled to DH. Most of the people we know would agree with this article. The article basically said most folks don't have any savings, little retirement, and carry a large credit card debt. I wanted to say this is old news.
Anyway, I don't know what rich is. I'm sure to someone who is making minimum wage, I'm rich. We own our home, we have savings, we have retirement, and the only thing we have besides our monthly bills that we owe on is our newer vehicle which we financed so our credit scores would quit plummeting. We could pay it off right now.
One of the ladies I worked with commented that she couldn't afford to save. Yet, she was going out and partying, bought lots of new clothes and shoes, and when she decided to get married, had the big church wedding and fancy reception. The reception was a sit down meal at a pretty nice place. She had, in fact, invited more people than she had places to seat them. She was complaining to me that one paycheck a month was going to student loan debt. She wanted to know when I paid mine off. I told her I didn't have them because between scholarships and working before college and all during college and doing without a lot of things, I graduated debt free. My parents didn't have the money to send me to college. So, I did the best I could. She admitted she used her student loans for stuff over and above her degree.
Barely a year later she is already filing for divorce. She had been living in a condo her parents owned before she married because she couldn't afford rent. She married a guy and they immediately bought a big house. I imagine things will get hairy as they work out the divorce settlement.
So, on the surface she probably looks OK, with a newer car, nice clothes, and having fun. But I bet she doesn't have squat as far as savings. So, is it harder to become rich? For her, she would say yes, but I think for a lot of people like her, it is her own fault. It is different if someone is underemployed and can't find something else or has a horrible accident or illness. I'm talking generally that so many people don't want to do without and must have instant gratification and get stuff without saving up. As for retirement and regular savings, well they claim they can't afford it, even some who would have matching funds for 401K.
So, what do you say, is it harder to become rich?
Yesterday i was catching up with someone and learned something I find amusing.
Years ago I became friends with an older lady at church. She was always careful with her money. We did things together. When I went to college we kept in touch. When I returned home, we would do things together. One summer we attended plays at the local university.
A few years ago she became unable to take care of herself and her meds so she entered a nursing home. I visited her each week and would bring her things that she would say she missed. I knew she and her late husband had worked and she said they had invested in savings bonds, but she was always very careful with her money. I took her out once (I had to get permission) and we went shopping and she said she wasn't sure she had the money to buy something and I told her if she didn't, I would pay for it. She did, but I did treat her to a snack at a place of her choosing.
She died and I knew her house was for sale and I had heard the only family she had left was in another country. I didn't think anything of it. Each Memorial Day I put flowers on hers and her husband's grave.
Well, yesterday the person I was catching up with happened to mention her dad was the executor of the estate and that my friend had money. Lots of it. Like over a million.
Here I thought she was broke and she had over a million. Wow, looks can be deceiving. I am quite amused at this because she certainly fooled me. But I know there have been more instances of this that I've read about people living frugally and then when they die, having quite a bit of money accumulated. I'm glad I didn't know she had this money. I would never want people to think I did anything for any gain.
Although it isn't a huge amount, I did wind up spending money that I hadn't planned on Sunday and yesterday.
Memorials for my friend were to the children's education fund. Since all are younger than 15, and there are three of them, We felt we had to give a decent gift.
Then yesterday out of the blue we receive a notice that a friend's son and his wife are having a baby and here's the link to the registry...btw, the baby is due in a month. I sort of felt put on the spot. So, I sent a gift certificate through the site. I don't want to sound cheap and/or snarky, but we haven't seen this guy for years and years. We still keep up with the parents, but I sort of felt pressured.
Neither will break us by any means. Just a little unexpected.
A big thank you to those who commented on my last post about losing a friend to suicide. I read somewhere that it takes three days for a person to adjust to a change and I think that is really true. There are still questions and I doubt if there will be answers. My heart goes out to the family and friends. We are going to attend the visitation and it should be a lengthy wait since he was a popular guy and his wife has many friends as well.
A friend suggested we do something different yesterday to have a mini getaway so they drove us to St. Louis. We had lunch at an Irish Pub. We've never been there and it was quite good. We went to a place called "The Hill" which is a neighborhood with Italian restaurants and stores. We shopped at an Italian grocery and viewed more types of pasta than I have ever seen in one place. We walked around to some of the other stores and bakeries and then stopped and had some gelato. We then went to another part of St. Louis where Concordia Seminary is located. I am Lutheran and in the Lutheran Church -Missouri Synod, men who are called to the ministry must attend a synodical seminary to earn their master's of divinity in order to receive a call from a congregation. We walked around the lovely campus and went into the chapel. It was a relaxing day spent with good friends. We did spend some money - we paid for our lunch and bought a couple of things at the grocery as well as purchasing the gelato, but I don't think we spent more than $50 in total. We offered our friends money for gas since they drove, but they turned us down saying that they planned on going anyway.
It looks like another hot week. I turn the thermostat up when we leave the house so the a/c doesn't work as hard and we use ceiling fans to help as well when we are home. DH mowed the front yard and did get pretty overheated. Because we haven't received much rain lately, he hadn't mowed in a few weeks because the grass was dormant. We received about half an inch over two days so the grass grew a little and became rangy.
DH picked his first bell pepper and ripe tomato on Thursday. Both were delicious. We had another ripe tomato with our brunch today and there is one for supper tonight. We will have more than one at meals when they start coming on, but they are like a treasure when they first come on. Homegrown certainly taste different than store bought.
DH has had problems with a baby bunny wanting to live in his garden and eat his carrots. He chases it out and uses something called liquid fence. It is a product that has garlic and rotten eggs that is pretty stinky. But the rain the other day washed it off and Baby Bunny decided to visit. I had to chuckle over DH's comment as he chased it -- he said that if he ever caught the little twerp he would kick it over the house. I rather doubt if he could catch it and knowing what a softy DH really is, he wouldn't kick it anyway. But the entertainment is pretty good!
The past few days have been an emotional roller coaster for me.
DH had a physical in June and some test results came back where he had to see a specialist. It has been scary waiting. He did see a specialist and the specialist doesn't feel things are anything to be concerned with so we check again in three months. At this point, we felt this is a blessing.
Personally, I am waiting on test results not only from a physical, but also from another test. It seems once you get to be a certain age, these checkups and tests get scary because you know what could be. There's probably new reason to worry, but unfortunately worry is something upon which I excel.
The thing that has really thrown me for a loop is a person I used to work with committed suicide. I can't even imagine the despair this person felt that he decided taking his own life was the solution. I makes me think how little we really know people. Of course there are all the questions of why which will probably not be answered. My heart goes to the family and friends who survive.
Currently the state House is meeting to decide whether to vote to override the governor's veto of the state budget. Yesterday they met but didn't have enough in attendance for a quorum. One wonders what they lawmakers are thinking when they aren't in attendance. It's their job. So, the waiting continues. We are supposed to have a dentist appointment this month and I'm wondering whether to postpone it. I could take the money out of savings, but I don't really want to. We are still living pretty frugally until we hear about the budget.
I live in Illinois. The land of Lincoln. I'm sure he is spinning his grave at this point. For over two years we haven't had a budget and it looks like it will be another year without one. The fiscal year ends June 30th and we are getting depressing news of what is going to stop or be delayed if there is not budget in place by midnight tomorrow. We have a governor and the speaker who are basically holding our state hostage because neither one wants to compromise. I would like to drive to Springfield and in my best teacher voice tell them to grow up and get along.
I'm not overly impressed with our news media. I have emailed our local television station complaining that there are so many "filler" stories and less local news or news that really impacts us. I'm not trying to be someone who doesn't want to know what is going on elsewhere, but I would like news about our community and nearby too. Each night they say we don't have a budget, but not much else. Today the state comptroller shared a video stating all the things that would be stopped or delayed if there is no budget. My pension is one of them that may be delayed come August. There are lots of teachers here in Decatur who get a teachers' retirement pension, not to mention around the state but not one news media has mentioned it. I found this little video on Facebook. I called teacher retirement to find out if it is true and was told that although we have to get our pensions, it is true that it could be delayed. I asked how much of a delay and was told they didn't know.
So, hubby and I are wondering if this is going to come to pass. He also has a state pension and has heard nothing about it. Fortunately all of our big bills have been paid (property taxes, homeowner's insurance, long term insurance, car insurance) so it will be the basic bills of power, water, phone, groceries, etc. that we will have. And we have money in the bank if we need to dip into it.
But I knew some folks who won't be so fortunate. One person makes a far bigger pension that we do and at this point he can't live on it and has to borrow money and put things on credit cards to buy everything he wants and thinks he needs. I emailed him about the possibility of the delay and said we were cutting back our July spending just in case. Haven't heard a word from him. Probably won't.
So, now the waiting begins. Will we or won't we get a budget? Will our legislative leaders learn to get along and work together? Personally, I'm not very optimistic.
It's Sunday afternoon and there's a routine around here. We attend church in the morning, come home and have brunch, clean up, and then DH goes to finish the newspaper and I head to the computer. I update our church's Facebook page and then pay bills, then relax by perusing SA blogs. Not a bad routine at all.
After reading folks' blogs and then seeing a gal I went to high school with, I realize both DH and I were very blessed to have the jobs we had for as long as we had. DH graduated college and intended to be a high school history teacher. Well, he didn't coach and in the late 60s and early 70s, that was pretty much an unwritten requirement. He worked a couple of different jobs here and there and then found a job on the public library's bookmobile. He worked there 35 years and loved it. He enjoyed books, liked helping people, and every day was different.
My start was a bit different. I wound up working about 5 different jobs before I was hired full time as a teacher for the public schools. There were times I worked two jobs and did some free lance writing to make money. But, I never forgot what a struggle it was. When I was hired, I remember what my dad told me when I was 16 and getting my first job -- go in early, do more than they expect, give more time, and never stop learning. He said you never want to give your employer a reason to fire you. I realize there are always circumstances beyond one's control, but he was right. I never was fired from a job so I guess I was very fortunate.
As I mentioned, I saw a friend I went to high school with and she just was laid off from her current job. She had hoped to stay with it until she retired at 62, but no such luck. It wasn't too long ago she was laid off from another job because of money problems with the place she worked. They had to cut back and she and a couple of others lost their jobs. I told DH I guess we were really lucky to have the same jobs for over 30 years.
I'm not sure what I would tell someone starting out looking for employment other than to not stop learning. When I was home on break during college, I worked as a reporter for a small newspaper. Back then, there were typesetting machines that you typed into and you saw one line at a time. You had to learn different keys to center stuff and to quad left and so on. One of the typesetters called in sick and the other one asked me if I wanted to come back and learn to fill in. I did with the editor's blessing. It worked out for all of us because when we would get close to deadline, he would put me on the typesetting machine because I could edit and type at the same time when time was short. Back at college I worked part-time for both the publishing company of my college and then for another publishing company which helped me pay for my school. Now typesetting is defunct with all the fancy computers, but because I was willing to learn it helped me finish college with no debt.
Anyway, just thought I'd say I feel very blessed and hope others seeking employment find worthy work of their talents and skills.
I truly like reading the newspaper. The paper and ink kind. I don't like reading one on a tablet or computer. I feel the same way with books too.
This morning I got up early and did some housework and then caught up on my newspaper reading. I was behind one a weekly paper we get. I'm kind of odd duck -- I like reading the classifieds. Last week's edition had the delinquent tax bills for 2015. Our tax bills come due usually June first of the following year and if you make installments, then the second installment is September 1st. I always read these not only because I'm nosy, but I also don't want to get blindsided by a bill I didn't catch.
I was shocked to see two names of folks I know. Both are gainfully employed. Neither are poor. Yet, they hadn't paid their taxes. I don't know if there is a grace period or what, but it makes me wonder how well they handle money. It is also scary. I don't know how it works, but wonder if they don't pay, if someone can redeem their property for the property taxes. These aren't shacks by any means. They are nice middle class homes.
I always save money because I estimate about what our tax bill will be so I have enough to pay it come June. I go ahead and pay it all at once so I don't have to worry about forgetting. I figure it was for the year before so they aren't really using my money per se. I guess we often think people do things the way we do.
Someone posted on Facebook that many Americans don't read. I know some of my friends don't read the paper, watch the news, or read online. I'm shocked when they seem so misinformed. I'm not talking about kids, but middle aged and older adults.
I did get caught up on all my newspaper reading, clipped some coupons, and recycled. Did some housework and did the grocery shopping for the week. DH is out picking sage that I'm going to dry. Not a bad day overall for getting things done.
It's Sunday. Can't say I have monumental happenings to report, but I have been busy.
My church has a small group of ladies who have a group called Stitches of Love. I asked about joining although my crocheting isn't super fancy and was told to come and they would show me what I needed to know. It's kind of a neat idea -- they make items and donate them. They use knitting looms and in the two hours I was there, I made and finished a hat for a preemie. One lady was working on an adult hat that will be donated to either a homeless shelter or a group home, and another lady was crocheting a lap robe for a nursing home. Other people were making different things too. This goes along with my challenge I posted about making a scarf to donate to a homeless shelter. I will admit it made me desire a loom so I did go out and buy a set (the box of looms were on sale). I have finished the scarf and even made a hat to go with it using the loom. I can now work on other stuff at home as well attend the group. The ladies told me not to buy yarn because they have a cabinet of it that has been donated so I look forward to seeing what they have.
I have also been crocheting Christmas ornaments out of crochet thread and I found a small table top Christmas tree that I'm going to decorate with them and donate them to the church for the bazaar. At a thrift shop last spring I found a brand new candlewick Christmas stocking and I finished it a few weeks ago and sewed the stocking and other than ironing it, it will be ready to donate to the bazaar this fall.
I have canned a little more this week. Since DH's garden is small, I get things in smaller increments, but I don't mind because I can a little at a time. It all adds up.
Ten years ago I visited the Teachers Retirement System to start the plan for my retirement. Because I had been hired and worked a number of years when the TRS deduction was lower, they had something that was a 2.2 upgrade. A number of years ago to help with the pension fund, the amount deducted was raised. It not only helped TRS, but also would help with one's own pension down the road. The lady I talked with suggested I pay the 2.2 upgrade for the years I worked before this rate hike. She said it was a good deal because if I didn't need it for my pension, I would get it back with interest. Not a lot of interest, but some. I received a letter stating that I would get it refunded to me and I could either take it as a payment or roll it over into a Roth. I, of course, rolled it over. So glad I paid that money a number of years ago. Although it was my money, it felt like found money when I heard I would get it refunded.
DH's birthday is coming up in September. I asked him what he wanted and one item he asked for was a pair of shoes like the ones he likes from Lands End. I scored a great deal...I had received a 30% off offer in an email and because we weren't in any hurry, also wound up with free shipping. I felt that was a very good deal. The shoes weren't supposed to arrive until the end of next week -- we received them a day after I ordered. I know that was a fluke because they probably aren't busy, but it felt like a bonus nonetheless.
It's been an interesting financial week to say the least.
Almost 30 years ago I started a 403b. I had met this person who was a financial advisor and although I didn't know squat about retirement accounts, I knew I had to do something besides a savings account and a checking account. Since I was a teacher, he said I qualified for a 403b. It was with Lincoln Financial and through the years, it really seemed to be going OK, except when we had the huge recession.
Then the feds decided to change the rules and school districts had to do some other things. The way I understand it, they could be liable for financial things if they handled it on their own, so my district hired a company called Gatekeeper that would take care of sending my pretax 403b. Except the catch was I could no longer use Lincoln, I had to use one of the 5 companies they worked with. I wasn't happy that the first three payments didn't go to the right company that I chose and so I lost out on some interest until Gatekeeper finally got their act together and put it with the company I chose. This company hasn't had the same dividends that Lincoln did either. So, now that I'm retired, I called my financial advisor and asked if there was any way to move my 403b from this later company to Lincoln. Unfortunately, no. But, I have learned a couple of things while all these queries have taken place. First of all, because of the federal rules put in place, anytime I want to take money out of my 403b, I have to get a form filled out from the district stating I am retired and I am not working anymore. Really? This is my money. It isn't like I was going to take it out and squander it.
So, the financial advisor came up with another plan. Roll the 403b money into an IRA so we can eventually remove it from the company and park it in another IRA that makes better interest. Easier said that done, apparently. The company told the financial advisor that we had to have a letter from the district and then fill out a written request. So, they typed all that up and I took it to the payroll department. The very nice lady shook her head and said no, since Gatekeeper was the one that "handled" your money, you have to fill out this form to get permission to request to do anything with your money. Sheesh. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. So, I am going to return to my financial advisor's office with the "official" form so we can start over. Somehow the skeptic in me thinks someone somewhere got a pay off to make it so difficult to get access to what is my money. All I want to do is put it someplace that pays something.
We had our financial overview for our car and home insurance this week. Never had one before. I was afraid it was going to be one long sales pitch. I was very pleasantly surprised. We took some things off the homeowners (jewelry being one rider) since I have sold most of the jewelry I had other than my wedding set.
Unfortunately DH's cucumber plants have a blight. I have gotten a few cucumbers, but the plant is starting to look sickly. This is the first time he has tried to grow them. We purchased some cucumbers at the Farmer's Market and with the few from his plant, I made sweet pickles yesterday. I also made apple jelly. DH likes apple juice with Sunday brunch and after reading articles on store bought juice containing arsenic, especially those from apples from China, I make juice for him. I apparently have gotten overzealous and had lots of juice, so I decided to make jelly. So, I have some jars of pickles and jelly for the pantry.
DH's small garden is starting to produce. We had been getting lettuce and had some radishes and onions. He replanted the radishes so we are waiting on them. But, we had some cherry tomatoes, a cucumber, and a bell pepper along with lettuce yesterday. I made a nice fresh salad for supper. We have shared some of the lettuce with a couple of people since we have more than we can eat. One person begged us for any extra garden stuff. We had extra lettuce so I gave it to her husband and never heard a word from her. I finally messaged her and she hadn't gotten around to using it. Makes me think she was more in love with the idea of having fresh produce than actually eating it.
We hit the garage sales today and found some nice things. Scored a brand new in the box Cuisinart food processor for $20. Also found some table runners that were very nice and very reasonable. We went to some sales that we didn't buy anything, but we figure getting out of the car and walking around was at least good exercise.
No big July 4th plans here which is fine. The weather forecasters are calling for rain on Sunday and we need it badly. Supposedly it won't mess up the afternoon/evening festivities for the holiday, but as much as the farmers need rain, even if it did, it would be a blessing.
Still waiting on news of my pension. All the paperwork has been turned in. Supposedly pension pay day is the first weekday of the month. I checked the bank account and no money so I guess and hope it comes through in August.
Hope you all have a wonderful July 4th.
Another weekend and another time the maid didn't show up! Of course she didn't...we don't have a maid. But a gal can dream, right?
We took down our Christmas decorations and put things away yesterday. After church and brunch today, we went to work of cleaning house. I think the house looks bigger after we put away our decorations. I usually put some things away when I set Christmas stuff out. Then when we put away the Christmas decorations, I pull out some of the stuff and it is like having something new. I know, I'm weird.
We had a small ham for Christmas dinner and supper. Today it made an appearance chopped up in scrambled eggs for brunch and tonight, hopefully it will have its final and encore performance in sandwiches. I'm not a huge ham lover -- I can eat it and enjoy it the first time or two. But, I tire of it easily, yet I am too frugal to throw it away. I've tried freezing it before and it was OK in ham and beans, but nothing to write home about.
We had a delightful Christmas and like so many of you, everything was paid for in cash. Well, sort of. I did put some things on my Discover card to get the extra cash back, but paid it off when the bill came.
Yesterday supposedly was to be a big shopping day. We didn't participate and help the economy. There really isn't anything we needed. DH picked out what he wanted for Christmas and I picked out some of what I wanted and he chose well for the rest. I'm indeed blessed.
The countdown continues for retirement. I have 95 school days left barring any snow days. Part of me is very excited and part of me is scared. My pension will be smaller than my current salary. I am not eligible for Social Security since I am a teacher in Illinois. I keep telling myself that with no outstanding debt and the fact we are careful with our money, there shouldn't be any problems.
I do have a question though. I plan to retire in May. Do I have to fully fund my Roth IRA before I retire, or do I have the rest of the year to fund it?
Hope you all have a wonderful prosperous new year!
Since the start of 2015, I have tried to keep track of what I'm reading bookwise. I finished #40 this afternoon called, "Nice Girls Don't Get Rich." It was nonfiction and it is spot on about how many times women don't pursue jobs because they want to be in helping careers, and unfortunately these careers are lower paying. It also talked about how women don't want to feel they are entitled to money. I am not sure, but I think this author is probably a baby boomer because a lot of what she wrote certainly hit home for me. She cited 75 mistakes women make when it comes to money...saving instead of investing...not saving...counting on prince charming to help them live happily every after. It had some sound and practical advice as well.
One of the comments she made was when girls are growing up, there used to be a mindset that girls are not good in math. I wanted to shout, "How True!" because that is how I grew up. I was told I was dumb in math. I think if someone had fostered a more positive view, I might have had more confidence.
Lois Frankel is the author and it is a quick and easy read on a general topic.
The last couple of weeks have been very busy. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a vow renewal and then took a trip to Door County as part of our anniversary celebration and our vacation.
Before we left, I received an official notice from the city claiming I had a weed violation on a house I do not own. It belonged to a late half brother...someone I did not associate with.I called the day I received the notice and was told she would check into it. I called back two days later, and she said she would check into it. It has taken many phone calls and gnashing of teeth to try and get this figured out. The first person who was in charge of the "research" claimed the property was my problem because my name was on the water bill. That scared me because I should not have been on the water bill. I called the city about that, and that wasn't true. Then I was told my name was on the deed. I called the supervisor of assessments, and no, that wasn't the case either. So I called the original person back and was told that the house was deeded to me due to a will. I asked how to check on that, and there was a will, but it was my father's, not the half brother's. They had similar names, but my father died before this house was purchased. This person said she would check into it. This was a mix up because of the similarity of the names. Well, over a week later, she apparently was too busy and figured I was trying to get out of paying, because I receive a registered letter from the city claiming I owe them money and will have to go to court. I have a friend who works for the city in a different department so I asked him to whom I should speak. He gave me the name of the city attorney. I spoke with him this morning and he understands the mix up and said he would dismiss it. Talk about stress! I hope this is the end of it. I understand the city wants the property taken care of, but this is an issue of the late half-brother's family. He has full siblings and three children.
Anyway, I pulled up one of my credit reports wondering if my name had been used for different accounts, and then wondered if I should be looking into Lifelock. Anyone have anything to say yay or nay?
Today has not been a no spend day.
It hasn't been a bargain day either.
It has been one of those days you save up for.
Today is my birthday. DH took me shopping at a clothing store that had sent me a 15% off card for my birthday. I found some items that were 40% off and using the 15% and then using my credit card, also received 5% off. That was nice, but it still cost money. But, I did find some new clothes.
We went to a pricey restaurant for my meal. No balloons, no singing waiters, just an excellent dinner with fabulous service. It was nice and relaxing and wonderful.
I didn't worry about the cost or saving money or feeling guilty. All those days I scrimped and saved...all those overworked leftovers...all those coupons clipped and sales studied...it enabled me to be like a queen today.
Now tomorrow...I go back to being ordinary penny pinching me!
Yes, indeedy, it sparkles and shines, and cools and freezes. Since the fridge was starting to look bare, I took the time to pull everything out and clean everything. It wasn't bad, but it made me feel like I had accomplished something. While I was doing this, sent DH to Aldi for our weekly run so when he got home, I had things organized and it looked tidy.
I used some of our left over ham and made ham and beans. I had left over cornbread so it made a nice supper.
Since I'm still recovering from whatever it was (or is) I didn't leave the house. I really had no desire to fight the crowds for the returning or the sales. I took down a bunch of the decorations, did some breathing treatments, and rested in between. I have some books and magazines that are due tomorrow at the library, so I wanted to finish those so I can return them. It would have been a no spend day if we hadn't had the Aldi run, but that's OK. It was a planned expenditure.
Had an interesting phone call yesterday from a relative. Seems they wanted to bake an apple pie, but had no apples and wanted to know if the local grocery was open. Really? On Christmas Day? All I can say is everything is done last minute and then mews when things don't work out. We are sort of put on the spot because they claim to have little savings, lots of bills, and we have so much. I will agree, we are blessed. But I am a planner. I plan meals. I plan shopping. I plan savings for Christmas. So, I know this makes me sound like Scrooge, but I have trouble feeling a lot of sorrow for their predicament.
Hope you had a good day after Christmas and Boxing Day for those of you who celebrate it.
Christmas break began for me yesterday. Yay! Fortunately I can actually relax.
Throughout the year we put money in a Christmas Club account and saved what we thought we would spend. I also shopped sales for presents throughout the year and stowed things back. As for baking, I bought things on sale so I would have it in my pantry. And last week, one of the grocery stores had a special on flour (78 cents for 5 lbs), sugar (88 cents for 4 pounds) and powdered sugar and brown sugar (88 cents a package) so I bought one of each to replace what I used.
Last summer as we went to thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales, we found wrapping paper very cheap so I bought that. We also found Christmas cards reasonable. Yes, I'm one of those old fashioned fools who still sends Christmas cards. I like sending them as well as receiving them and although the postage is expensive, I think writing cards and letters has become a lost art.
We shipped our two presents to friends earlier this month, mailed our Christmas cards at the beginning of the month, and I baked and gave out baskets of goodies. I wrapped presents and other than one present we need to deliver, that is taken care of.
I have my Christmas Eve and Christmas day menu planned and items purchased.
I am not dreading the after Christmas bills because everything is paid for. It is a good feeling. I am very blessed.
What I have to say may not be popular, but I'm going to speak my mind anyway. I have some Facebook friends who often complain about not having money...and a couple of these folks put it right out there that they are broke.
I understand that things come up and it can hurt one's financial situation. We have all had unexpected expenses. That is not what I'm irritated about.
These same folks are the ones who spend tons of money on cigarettes, booze, and tattoos.
One person talks about how their SSI just isn't enough and then mentions the new tattoo that is wanted.
Don't complain you can't make your benefit check or your paycheck stretch when you are getting what I would term luxuries such as tattoos, cigarettes, and booze. Especially if that check is coming from tax payers who work hard, save money, and pay for things as they come.
You want cigarettes? Then make sure you other bills are paid before getting them. Want to have some body art? Be sure you have food in your house and gas in your car before getting inked. Don't spend the money ahead of time and then moan and whine how you don't have money for groceries or you don't know how you are going to drive to work.
OK, rant over. Thanks for letting me vent. I'm sure the folks who this really pertains to would either deny it was them or wouldn't bother to read it.
The phone rang just a few minutes ago...some acquaintance hitting us up for a donation for her organization. Usually it is in the spring, but she said they moved it to the fall. Bet they have one in the spring too. We never hear from this person except when she calls to ask for a donation.
Last week we had two small visitors. Both were neighborhood kids, one selling popcorn for Cub Scouts and the other with a school fundraiser. Overpriced stuff. Yikes. We of course bought an item from each of them. I told DH that was it for the year. This one family sends kids over every single time there is some sort of school fundraiser. I work at a different school and I get hit up at school and have the policy of I buy something from the first child who asks me to support my own school. I understand schools need money, but this is getting ridiculous.
Two weeks ago our school's foundation asked all of us for monetary donations.
And, the two buildings I work in wanted money for the "Sunshine Committee" dues.
This is even pinpointing the mail we received the past two weeks requesting donations.
I can't keep up at this rate. If we give to everyone, it will totally blow my budget. Yet, how and when do we decline? We have three places we give regularly in addition to all these fundraisers. I don't want to take money from them. Yet, I don't need any gift wrap or overpriced candy and popcorn. Enough already!
For the record, I don't collect bricks.
My husband would disagree. He swore I put bricks in the garbage bag in the kitchen. I tried to tell him I was helping him stay healthy by doing some weight lifting, but he didn't buy it.
Actually, I'm not sure what was in the bag. I don't remember putting a lot of stuff in there. We recycle as much as we can and I don't use a large amount of stuff with wrapping. I think he just likes to gripe about something.
We had another meeting with our financial adviser today. After our discussion last week, we decided to move some of our money out of money markets and ladder CD's so it is still basically liquid, but makes a little more than the pittance we are getting now. We have our money in a bank and a credit union. The credit union was great, but the bank, well, they were a pain when we tried to make a withdrawal. They wanted us to work with their financial adviser whom they called over and he said he could put our money in an annuity. We explained we didn't want it tied up like that and he said it was our best bet. We asked if it was linked to an insurance company and he said yes and how wonderful it was.
Sorry, we aren't interested! It shouldn't be that difficult to withdraw your own money. We weren't taking it all out, just part of it and the hard sell didn't endear them to us.
I've worked with our financial adviser for 28 years. He was decent to me when I had little and is still nice...it isn't the money or investments. He's just a trustworthy, kind man.
DH was telling him how we shop at Aldi, hit loss leaders at the grocery store, and how I rework leftovers. Last week we had a pork tenderloin roast for one meal, then I cut it up and with the broth from the roast, cooked it with onions, carrots, zucchini, and celery to make a stew with crushed tomatoes. After the stew, I let it cook down a little more so it was thicker and served it over rice. Three different meals from one piece of meat.
I roasted squash tonight as well as potatoes. Since they were not all eaten, I put them with stew meat and other vegetables and some leftover green beans and we will have beef vegetable soup tomorrow night. I have been freezing the leftover soup so I can thaw and heat it up on those days when I get home too late to fix something. Fortunately DH loves soup.
Our squash plant is doing quite well and I look forward to making soup from it. Anyone have a good recipe they are willing to share?
Last week when we went to the library, I ran across a book in the new section entitled, "Bargain Fever" by Mark Ellwood. It stated that paying full price is so "passe'" It was an interesting read and as I told DH about it, he wanted to read it as well. It was a pretty easy ready and pointed out some interesting facts, so I would suggest it if you are going to the library. The author explained how some high end stores have secret sales and how Americans no long want to pay full price.
As far as bargains, I think I found one the other day. A friend was having a garage sale and we went. She had two new packages of sheer curtains and they were a dollar each. Just what I wanted for my husband's den. I had bought some curtains on sale a few months back and put them up, but didn't want to pay for sheers since they weren't on sale. So glad I waited.
We picked our first zucchini and our tomatoes are starting to come on as well.
We met with our financial advisor as he did a review and a projection. He felt we were in a good place and our frugality pays off. It was nice talking to someone who "gets" it. He understands about saving money, even the little stuff. It is always nice to be validated.
School is out and it is nice to know I can sort of take it easy for awhile.
Of course, Thursday was my first day off and we ran like crazy people. Not because we wanted to, but things came up at the last minute. My husband's high school principal died and he really wanted to attend the visitation. The man had a long, healthy life and died at 97...it was a good way for DH to remember him and the good memories of his high school days. Plus, he saw some of his classmates at the visitation.
I think one of the best things about being off is getting to do things around the house at a much more relaxed pace. It is nice shopping for different foods knowing I don't have to rush home and fix them after work. And I don't have to have a cleaning marathon every weekend.
DH had his yearly physical Friday morning so I went to Aldi while he was out. I found turkey tenderloins which are seasonal. I grilled them Saturday night as well as grilling potatoes and zucchini so I didn't heat up the house. I was as excited about this meal than if we had gone out to eat at a fancy restaurant. They were good -- I grilled them and then added barbecue sauce right before I took them off. Moist and flavorful and enough for at least another meal.
I was teasing DH we spent big money today. Actually, we did. Our property taxes are due. But, it is nice to know I could just take the money out of savings and pay them and it was taken care of. We also put money in our different savings accounts. We have a lot of different accounts...one is our basic emergency account, we have one we are using for home improvements and we call it our new roof account at this point. We have a vacation account and a Christmas club account and then there is a basic savings account we sometimes put money in just to keep it active. Someone told us we were crazy to have so many accounts, but I explained it helped us plan for things. We know we have a certain amount of money for vacation so if we didn't save enough, it means our spending stops and we don't do as much or go as far. We have a Christmas club so we have a set limit to spend and aren't tempted to spend more. Actually, DH uses half of it for Christmas and half of it for my birthday since my birthday is less than 12 days after Christmas. Of course the same friend who was telling us we didn't need all these accounts is the person who eats out at least once a day and puts everything on a credit card. Think I'll keep my multiple accounts and pay cash.
I live in Central Illinois. We had a snowstorm yesterday and like much of the country, we have extremely cold temperatures. Wind chills are in double digit negative numbers. Brrrr!
Friday night and Saturday were interesting in our city; people posted photos of the run at grocery stores. I guess many of them ran out of things on the shelves.
Yesterday was my birthday and we originally had planned on going out for pizza with some friends. We changed our plans with the blowing snow, cold temps, and terrible conditions. Since I had anticipated going out, I didn't purchase buns at Aldi for our normal Sunday night sloppy chicks. We had them, but I had no buns, so I baked bread yesterday. I baked small round loaves that after cooling, we sliced for buns. Not too bad and certainly pretty reasonable money wise. I did not plan on hitting the stores Friday night or Saturday just for a package of buns! We had been watching the weather and did our grocery shopping Thursday since I'm off from school.
I imagine most of you have stuff in reserve in your pantry and freezer. I know we do. We eventually would need to replenish some things, but DH was talking last night about how we didn't have to brave the craziness at the grocery stores. I like to find things on sale and stock up.
We are going to pay someone to plow out our driveway. I'm sorry, with over 8 inches of snow received, and then drifting, I am not going to shovel in weather with wind chills of -35. The hospital bill will be more than what we pay the guy to plow our driveway. Maybe that's a weird way of looking at it, but I know it will make me sick if I get out there with my asthma. DH has a little heart condition that we don't want to make worse so I don't want him out in it either plus he froze his lungs a couple of years ago and can't handle extreme cold like he used to.
Hope everyone is warm and safe.
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