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Feeling blessed

March 5th, 2017 at 11:42 am

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.

Newspaper Reading Frenzy

October 20th, 2016 at 01:36 pm

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.

Just checking in

August 28th, 2016 at 02:19 pm

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.

Finances and some canning

July 10th, 2016 at 01:10 pm

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.

Garden Goodies

July 1st, 2016 at 12:00 pm

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.

Why doesn't that maid ever show up?

December 27th, 2015 at 02:14 pm

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!

Reading...#40

June 25th, 2015 at 04:45 pm

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.

Busy, busy, and a question

June 22nd, 2015 at 02:48 pm

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?

Not a cheap day

January 5th, 2015 at 05:29 pm

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!

It Sparkles! It Shines!

December 26th, 2014 at 03:44 pm

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.

Taking Inventory

December 23rd, 2014 at 08:14 am

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.

I'm going to say it...(beware, a rant!)

October 1st, 2014 at 04:08 pm

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.

Really?

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.

Enough Already!

September 28th, 2014 at 01:57 pm

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!

Bricks, bargains, and squash

July 21st, 2014 at 04:45 pm

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. Smile

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?

Bargain Fever

July 16th, 2014 at 06:04 pm

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.

Spending and saving as well as cooking

June 2nd, 2014 at 12:47 pm

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.

Baby, it's cold outside!

January 6th, 2014 at 01:16 pm

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.

Paying with cash article

October 13th, 2013 at 04:14 pm

There's an article about paying with cash costing Americans money.

Not the surface kind of answer, but the fact people are paying fees to pay with cash. I can't figure out if the gist of the article is to go cashless or just reporting. I don't trust media anymore because gone are the days when they just reported the facts...so many stories are so biased.

Here is the URL:

http://www.today.com/money/paying-cash-costs-americans-200-billion-year-8C11363366

This has been a nice weekend, but I have spent money. We walked around our downtown area yesterday. We have lots of small locally owned shops. I like the idea of supporting local small businesses. One place had 20% off things and I did buy quite a few things, but they were things I would have purchased anyway. Two things were presents so saving the 20% was nice. We also went to a local wine store. We aren't wine drinkers, but we were looking around for a nice bottle to give as a present and found one, I think, this person will like. We made our way to the grocery store and came home so I could begin supper.

Today we hit a flea market and an antique mall. We didn't spend much, but we had a nice time looking. We came home to get to work.

DH picked cherry tomatoes. I dried parsley and put it in a jar for this winter. After DH brought in the tomatoes, I washed them and went out and picked some of the onions we have left, some basil, and DH picked a bell pepper. I made two quarts of tomato sauce...that is a lot of cherry tomatoes for that much sauce!

We had sloppy chicks for supper (sloppy joes made with ground chicken) and I used half of a quart of sauce. The leftovers will be lunches for this week. But, I will now have 11 quarts of tomato sauce in the freezer. Not bad for those little tomatoes!

The Witch of Wall Street

June 3rd, 2013 at 07:17 am

I just finished a biography of Hetty Green, the richest woman in America during the Gilded Age.

I found the book at the library and I had not heard of her. DH said she was considered crazy and nasty. Half way through the book I did look her up and it seems that almost all the online sites have the same info...wonder if they got their research from the same place.

The author of this book was more kind than the stuff on the online sites.

In a nutshell, Hetty was born to a rich family, but her family said it was the family's responsibility to make more money for future generations. Hetty was considered a miser. She was considered a cheapskate. Yet, as the author pointed out, if she had been a male, she would have been considered smart. She lived in small places, ate at simple restaurants, and didn't spend big bucks on personal fashion. She raised her kids to be careful with money.

It's funny how we like to compare ourselves to people we read about. I was just thinking that although I'm not wealthy and wasn't born wealthy, I try to find ways to save money. And some of the people I work with consider me a cheapskate.

According to the author, Hetty is like Warren Buffet...the thrill isn't in having great riches, but growing those riches. Maybe that is what those of us on SA like as well.

Taking the plunge

May 30th, 2013 at 07:36 am

Well, we did it. DH and I have discussing this for a few months and we have been buying items very reasonably and ... we put down rent for a booth in a local antique mall.

I am both excited and frightened. My folks always did something for extra money. When I was a kid they had a furniture store and when we moved they had a small antique shop. I am, by no means, an expert on anything, but I am hoping we can make some money as well as have some fun buying and selling.

Our booth is very small and therefore fairly reasonable. I have a variety of items, priced differently. DH has argued with me over this one item...it is a very large candle with a primitive beaded ring around it sitting on a glass plate. He says it is too ugly and I say for $2.00, someone might buy it just for the candle and the plate. We shall see.

We set it up this afternoon. The place is supposed to have a flea market on the grounds this weekend so hopefully it will bring in more customers. I hope we have a nice weekend for it.

Any suggestions for a successful booth?

Wish us luck!

Odds and Ends

May 18th, 2013 at 05:09 pm

Each week I fix a fruit salad. Same fruit. During the winter it is pricey, but we pay for it anyway because we believe it has helped us stay healthier. Our fruit salad consists of grapes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries and sometimes I get wild and add an apple at the last minute or kiwi. Each night I slice a banana and then put the fruit salad over it. It's pretty and yummy, and we like it. That being said, this week DH found strawberries on sale so we had leftover salad. I took the remainder of it in my lunch. The ladies I eat with were amazed that we have fruit every night. Cleaning the fruit and cutting up strawberries doesn't take that long. I know folks are busy, but THAT busy?

I've blogged about the bread making and so far, the kids have loved it. I do have some left at the end of each day and I hate for it to go to waste so I offer it to staff. One lady who I know cooks quite a bit was shocked that it was a recipe and not a box mix for the bread machine. I told her those box mixes about $4 each and why spend so much when with 6 ingredients, you can make basic white bread? So, she asked for the recipe.

We hit a true thrift shop today and found some great bargains. I found two small American flags, made in America, a small Howard Miller clock with a picture frame, some linen napkins, a small blue and white candle holder, and an unused candle...total cost: $6 for all. I did not need any of this stuff, but the candle will go in my stash when I need a quick gift. The candle holder is for me...I like blue and white stuff. We will use the napkins, and the flags are going in our yard. The clock is going to go next to my chair in the family room because I take off my watch when I get home and we don't have a wall clock. It had been a gift to someone who works for a large milling company here in Decatur...there is a small (less than an inch wide) logo on it, but it looks news. Fine with me. Howard Miller is a famous clock maker so hopefully the clock will run for a long time...it had a battery in it and it was working.

About a month and a half ago a university offered an online course to any teachers in our district on financial matters and retirement. You are to sign up, agree to take the coursework, and they pay you $25 for signing up and $25 when you finish. I signed up not only for the money, but also, I hoped to learn some things. I have taken three modules and I can say I have learned a few things about vocabulary and such. Some of the things are common sense like emergency fund and savings accounts. But, it never hurts to learn new things and get paid to do it besides. I don't think many signed up. Oh, well.

It was a beautiful day here in Central Illinois. After hitting the library and the thrift shop, we went to Lowe's and bought some plants. DH has been busily planting tomato plants, bell pepper plants, and herbs. We sure hope for a good harvest!

On the news tonight part of the midsection of the country is forecasting tornadoes. Hope they don't get them and hope they don't come here either.

Hope you had a great Saturday as well.

Scary finances

April 25th, 2013 at 04:44 pm

I am a public school teacher in Illinois. Unfortunately, our state legislators have not made sure our pension funds have been funded like the law says and have, in fact, raided them to pay for pet projects. As a result, our state is having major issues with finances. One topic is to do away with the cost of living raises, or not have them take effect right away. With the teacher pension, one had to reach a certain age before they would kick in. I am not sure about the other pension funds.

A friend if ours is retired and he is worried. I am not sure if worried is actually a strong enough word.

When he worked, he had a position where he made good money for many years. He bought a big house, traded cars often, and traveled extensively. He and his wife did not do without.

He counts on those yearly raises...he said he isn't sure what to do if they don't come...he admitted they owe on their home, cars, have a personal loan and credit card debt.

He was truly grousing and going on and on. But one thing we did notice is they aren't cutting back. They are planning two trips and eating out almost every day. The spending continues.

His finances scare me.

The sad thing is he made good money. I really wonder where they are going to end up. It would be different if he made little and health made him retire. But, there isn't any use to try and talk to him...he feels he deserves to have all the nice things he has purchased on credit.

Tuesday Topic

December 4th, 2012 at 04:44 pm

A calm Tuesday in the Midwest. My kind of day, that's for sure.

Well, calm for me anyway. Seems the boys at my school were riled up and no one knew why. So many were making such poor choices and I don't even think they could verbalize why.

I wonder if that is the problem with so many folks who are unwise with money. Can they verbalize why?

It is interesting hearing this one couple justify buying a new vehicle last week. Both felt they had to buy a new vehicle because the youngest will be driving next year. She said that they got a great deal and $3,000 cash back which just about made up for what they owed on the other one?!?

Their family isn't the only one I knew who trades vehicles while still owing money. It's one thing if you have an accident and you owed money and had to replace the car, but to go out and buy another when you didn't have the original one paid off.

I'm not nosy enough to ask, but I wonder how many cars these folks never paid off and rolled over. Maybe I really don't want to know.

What a strange economy!

September 18th, 2012 at 04:39 pm

Perusing the paper today, there were two stories next to each other on the same page. One was outlining how so many more folks are having to use the local foodbanks because they can't make their money stretch after paying bills and then how many folks ordered the new iPhone and what a record it was.

Wow...some folks are spending big bucks on technology while others are struggling to eat. Wonder what's in between?

Garage sales were ghastly!

April 27th, 2012 at 07:59 pm

OK, maybe ghastly is a bit strong. But, they were sad.

Each spring our subdivision does sales on a Friday and Saturday in April. DH got up early, showered, and hit them early with a list of things we were looking for as well as a list of things a friend was looking for.

He came home empty handed. He said the pickin's were slim.

I wonder if the economy is showing it's hoary head.

I suggested this to DH -- perhaps folks don't have the money to buy new stuff, so they aren't letting go of anything we are interested in, just trying to sell those things that aren't necessary.

I know the local thrift shops are booming around here. I certainly hope things start looking up for the families in my community as well as the rest of the country. Not because I feel the desire for better garage sales, but it's difficult for so many families to keep their heads above water.

News story on gas prices and the economy

March 1st, 2012 at 04:40 pm

Before heading off to work, I try to peruse the paper for a few local stories and glance at some headlines.

However, one story caught my eye that claimed that the recovering economy can withstand the rising gas prices.

I'm wondering where they got that information. Maybe some cities won't have a problem, but locally, we have had two businesses with major layoffs, and many of our folks who are employed are underemployed. I'm sure having to choose between gas in the tank and food on the table and medicine for health, many will not buy fuel and try to find alternatives or stay at home.

I'm sure our tourism will be hurt this summer too.

I remember when news stories were supposed to be factual and based on true stuff. It seems that news is often skewed by sensationalism to tell the story or the personal views of the editor. I'm a realist. If it is a news story, I want the facts, good or bad. If I want to read an opinion, I'll look on the editorial page. I really wonder where the reporter got those facts on the economy and gas prices. A generalized story on the wire doesn't mean everyone has the same situation. So, I am thinking we might have a situation where the economy might not be able to weather these gas prices...at least near me.

Just call me a skeptic!

Prices going up, employment going down

February 25th, 2012 at 07:00 am

It's been an odd few days. We received our home insurance bill and it went up almost $100. I guess it is because of so many claims all over the country. In the almost 22 years we have had homeowner's insurance, we had one claim and it was to replace a small area of guttering when the ice storm had a tree hit our house.

Gas prices skyrocketed. I know that was everywhere in the U.S. What we find interesting is although the local service stations have already bought some of the gas, as soon as they catch wind of oil prices going up, they raise the price, although they haven't bought any of the new gas.

Our governor is trying to cut things everywhere. He's trying to figure out how he can cut teacher pensions. I understand that our state is in trouble, but Illinois teachers pay a huge amount of their paychecks for their pension. Unfortunately the legislature hasn't kept up their end of the bargain for years and has raised the pension plan to pay for projects they wanted. Now the governor wants to cut the health insurance. Teachers pay for their health insurance so it isn't like they get it free.

It is getting scary since I'm getting closer to retirement. I'm hoping there will be a pension plan and insurance plan when my time comes. Illinois teachers are not eligible for Social Security.

Our city has been hit with layoffs at two places this week. I know the national news says the recession is over, but our unemployment has remained high. Now with these two major employers laying more off, it is getting downright frightening.

Hope things are better where you are!

Planning Ahead

January 31st, 2012 at 04:39 pm

A couple of the restaurants we like have Facebook pages and often they post their specials for the night. As a joke, I have been posting what I've fixed for supper. I get some interesting comments, usually folks asking to come over!

One gal asked if I ever took a night off. I said I do because I do, but I also responded that I cook things ahead. Tonight we had lasagna. I had planned it because I wanted a filling supper as well as stuff for lunches. I had already bought the lasagna noodles on sale, had a coupon and a sale on the cheese, and hubby found a good deal on ground chicken. I used the tomato sauce I made last summer with our tomatoes, onions and basil, so it wasn't the most expensive meal either.

One couple we sometimes do things with never plan anything ahead. They have called and asked us to go out to eat and I have often had to say that I had already started supper. They act like I'm crazy. DH says they fly by the seat of their pants. I admit we do eat out, but I do cook a lot too. And, I usually plan my weekly menus to use what we have as well as utilize those items on sale. Maybe I'm anal, but it is reassuring to know I have our meals planned and some fixed and ready to heat.

I think planning goes farther than just food. We plan for vacation by saving up and reading up. We save up for most things and then check Consumer Reports to see if it is a good value. I have been trying to put a bit of money away for the past 20+ years for retirement. I can't say I'll be rich, but hopefully I won't live in poverty, either.

Is it safe to assume that if you are on Saving Advice you are a planner too?

Is the American dream attainable?

November 19th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

As I catch up on my reading, Time had a story about what people think about the "American dream." It asked if people think it is attainable for today's youth, or has it become impossible?

How thought provoking! I've been talking about this with a lot of people and it is interesting to listen to their comments. Some people say they feel it is not attainable like it has been in the past because the economy is hindering the upward movement.

Yet others say it is still in one's reach, but people have to be willing to work hard and look for ways to reach it.

I'm going to agree with the latter. The reason I believe this is I think people can still move up and better themselves. I think it can be difficult and challenging. However, I also think people need to prioritize what their dream might be. Plus, they need to work for it, not figure it will be handed to them.

For example, I have a friend who works two jobs. Neither job is super high paying, but could be adequate. She still runs out of money. She rents, drives a beater, and complains about her situation. I have encouraged her to budget, open up a savings account, and not rely on credit cards. A few years ago she wanted to buy a house and went to the bank to be pre-approved. When she told me how much she was pre-approved for, I told her not to spend that much because it would keep her from having any disposable income. She looked at houses and since they weren't what she wanted, she never bought one. A friend of mine had a stroke and her daughters sold her house -- very reasonable and far less than what my friend had been pre-approved for. But, since it wasn't "perfect" she didn't want it.

Another friend of mine works one full time job. It's not anything that is going to make her rich -- in fact she makes less than the aforementioned friend. But, she owns her home, bought a used car where she can afford the payments, and saves up for things. When she bought her house, she bought it at a reasonable price and fixed up what she needed to fix up to move in and has been working on it since. She will probably never be wealthy, but she feels she has done very well and is satisified with her life.

I think in a lot of cases, the person needs to figure out what their dream is and then work towards it. Yet, I think it is that four letter word that is hindering many: work. There are those who feel "entitled" to a fancy house, big car, and large salary.

If watching some of the house hunting shows are any indication, many people are not willing to buy a house and fix it up -- they want a house with all the bells and whistles like what their parents have, the parents who have worked over 40 years to achieve what they want.

I think today's economy reflects this mindset. Another friend laughs at me when I tell them we have a regular savings, a Christmas club, a vacation savings, and then another account that we put money in for whatever thing we are saving for, be it a fridge, dishwasher, or now, a new furnace. I guess immediate gratification brought about by credit cards has made saving and anticpating a thing of the past for many.

So, I wonder what others think. Is the American dream attainable, or is the youth of tomorrow doomed?

Finding a way to add to furnace fund

November 10th, 2011 at 05:41 pm

One of the "joys" of being a homeowner means replacing or repairing things when they break or wear out.

Earlier this fall we had to replace our 13 year old water heater.

We figure we better start a furnace fund. The furnace was here when we bought the house -- it is over 14 years old and knowing the previous owners who replaced it, it probably wasn't top of the line. We have it checked every year and I replace the filters each month. It had quite a workout last summer with the extreme heat and so I we are hoping it will last through the winter.

So, I've been looking for ways to contribute to this savings. I found a broken gold chain and dh took it in today we received $24 for it. Not too bad for something that was sitting in the drawer.

I had to drive some for work last month and received a mileage check...it's going in the fund too.

I think I'm going to ask the credit card for a check for our cashback bonus and put that in. Plus, I'm trying to put a set amount in each month.

Now, if the furnace will be good and not break before we can afford a new one!


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