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Viewing the 'Saving Money' Category

Busy Hands...

June 11th, 2016 at 09:37 pm

Well, not just my hands, actually. It seems like things are going by very quickly. I'm trying to get caught up on projects, some fun, some not so much.

We had a new roof put on last month. We saved up for it and I think it looks great. We've had some rains and so far no leaks, so that is wonderful. DH is the gardener and one of my retirement gifts was a gift certificate to a local garden place. We bought some lovely flowers which DH planted both in the ground as well as in pots and he has his small vegetable garden going as well.

Last week we cleaned the siding and windows. We don't have a power washer so this meant doing it by hand. I think the house looks better. DH wasn't thrilled with the prospect, but he does like the results.We figure it was a money saving procedure since we used what we had (Dove dish washing soap and elbow grease). I'm glad we did it when we did because the temps are in the 90s with heat index being nearly 100.

We hit some rummage sales the past few days. One had crochet thread so we bought some of it. I recently made a small dresser scarf out of a skein we bought at a thrift shop so I have some more to work with. A couple of months ago I bought a candlewicking kit for a Christmas stocking. I have the candlewick and embroidery finished and am now working on sewing the stocking together and finishing it. I don't have a sewing machine so it takes me longer, but that's fine...it keeps me busy. I plan to donate the stocking and some of the things I crochet to my church's Christmas bazaar.

I just finished book number 38 for this year. We go to the library regulary and we also check out magazines as well as books.

We succumbed to advertising and bought a bottle of Recolor which is supposed to bring back the color of things. Our front door is fiberglass and it had faded. It was stained to look like a wood door. I put that on this afternoon. It helped some. It wasn't the miracle worker stuff, but we didn't expect it to be either.

Since it is so hot, I put a pork roast in the Crockpot with potatoes and carrots for supper instead of heating up the house. I made a fruit salad for dessert.

We've spent a little money here and there, but nothing major. I hope keeping my hands and the rest of me busy, keep me out of trouble. Smile

Fortunate, Lucky, or Smart?

June 3rd, 2016 at 07:55 pm

We were with some friends and we were talking about finances. One friend happened to mention that we were fortunate to be "comfortable." I didn't say anything really to respond, but it sort of made me wonder, is it all about luck or did I perhaps have a little bit to do with it?

I am not going to say I don't spend money. I do. But, I try to bargain hunt. I grew up relatively poor. Not dirt poor, but there wasn't very little for extras and most of the stuff I had was bought used. I saw my parents age and even though they worked hard their whole lives, they never really got "comfortable." My dad was always trying to figure out a way to make more money. He worked a full time job as well as doing jobs on the side. My mom helped run a used furniture store they had for awhile and then did garage sales and quilted. I knew once I had a full time job, I needed to figure out something for retirement because I didn't want to work until I dropped if I didn't have to.

I listened to a couple of people I worked with. Before I got hired as a teacher, I worked full time and picked up extra work when I could. I started a small IRA. They said the idea was to start saving young so the money had a chance to build.

When I was hired as a teacher, I went to church with a financial adviser and so I asked to meet with him. He was starting out like I was. I told him someone had said something about a retirement account where you pay low taxes when you retire. He explained it was a 403b and how it worked. It took out pretax dollars and then when you retire and drew it out, you paid less taxes because you should supposedly make less. Let me tell you, making what little I made at the time, taking out $50 a pay period was hard.

Fortunately I did not have school loans because I had some scholarships and worked throughout college and paid everything off before I graduated. Someone asked me how I did that and I explained that my college time, although a good time in my life, was not one where I spent a lot of money. I didn't go out partying on the weekends. I rarely ate out because if you lived on campus, you were required to pay board which was a food service plan. Spring break was spent at home. My folks helped out with buying clothes and shoes (mostly from garage sales), and snacks from Aldi. I ate more peanut butter and saltines for snacks and when I ran out of peanut butter, just saltines. I didn't have a fridge so I drank water in a glass from the fountain. Usually it was cool and I really lived it up when I got some iced tea mix. During the winter I had a little "hot pot" which was a small electric kettle and I had hot tea and hot chocolate. Am I sorry for not living it up -- not really.

Anyway, as DH and I got money ahead, the financial adviser (same wonderful guy!) directed us to other retirement options like a Roth IRA. I still have that small IRA I started years ago and it is still kind of small because the Roth is a far better vehicle for us now.

As I said, I spend money. But, I try to plan my purchases. I shop sales. Heck, I shop thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales! We save for things. We recently put on a new roof. Actually we paid to have it put on. No home equity loan here...we have been saving for the past couple of years. DH went and got the money out of the credit union account and put it in our checking account and we paid for it when it was finished. We save for Christmas and we save for vacations.

Am I fortunate? Yes, I believe I have been blessed. I guess when he implied I had been "lucky" I kind of bristled at this...I worked hard and as an educator, realized I would make more salary if I had more education so I earned a master's as well as hours beyond my master's. This increased my pay. But, I didn't inherit tons of money. I worked and saved and DH worked and saved. So yes we are fortunate, but I also think we used our brains to help ourselves. Do you think I was wrong to bristle at this friend's implication?

Happy Memorial Day!

May 30th, 2016 at 06:56 pm

Another Memorial Day here in the United States. I'm not sure if other countries have the equivalent and if so, if it is on another date. I know I'm tired of all the "Memorial Day Sales." Somehow I just can't get into shopping for Memorial Day furniture or whatever when Memorial Day means so much more. Leave it to businesses to commercialize it.

In other news, I'm officially retired. A week ago today was my last day. I finished up paperwork and had a marvelous day. School districts aren't fancy dancy like businesses and usually the staff at one's school takes care of these type of things. We had a luncheon in our gym. Another teacher was also retiring and we have three other staff who are either moving to other schools or leaving teaching. The social committee decided to set up the gym as a "tea room" and it was very clever. They brought in good dishes and glasses and a local place catered the food. They even had cloth tablecloths and cloth napkins. I thought it was delightful. One committee person thought I'd be upset because we didn't go out...this is so fitting with how I live my life. We couldn't go out because we had an hour for lunch (half day for kids as a make up of a PLC day in March) and the rest of the day was meetings. That afternoon they had a "tea" for the two of us retiring and many of my friends and former colleagues came by. It was very nice and well planned. I felt very special. One of my friends said I looked very happy.

It's been almost a week since then. DH and I have enjoyed the time together. Part of the time was spent trying to fix stuff -- we had three things break...a hinge on one of kitchen cabinets, a wheel on the tray in our dishwasher, and my modem went out. Two of these are now fixed. One was an absolute pain...we live in a middle sized town with cabinet shops and hardware stores. No one carried this hinge. I finally went online. There was a distributor in a small town near us. This is an Amish owned business. We take the hinge and he proceeds to show us that the hinge wasn't broken, but the plate and instead of purchasing a whole new hinge, just replace the small piece at a whopping price of a buck. Gotta love honesty!

My first day of retirement we celebrated by eating leftover pulled pork from the school luncheon and then went to one of my favorite places...the library. DH retired from the library so we still know some of the employees. They were kidding me on my first day of retirement, here I am checking out magazines and books. Of course I did...I love reading!

We did go take flowers for some our family members' graves. One cemetery is a very old one and there are some graves that don't look like they have been visited in years. Kind of sad, but understandable if there is no one left. At one cemetery there were flags for Veterans. That is always nice. DH's dad was in WWII and has a military stone as well as a family stone. I try to take cleaning things to clean the stones.

I'm going to digress on to another topic...today's paper had Mary Hunt's "Everyday Cheapskate." Her starting paragraph stated that research indicates that many Americans are spending $1.22 for every $1 they earn. A very scary statistic, but I don't doubt it one bit. I look at the way some folks spend and continue to spend. I know my Thermos and lunch bag were kind of made fun of by many, but it saved us a bunch of money. I know I have to buy some things and I do buy things I don't always need, but I figure eating leftovers, making do with things, trying to repair things, and finding joy in what others consider simple things has certainly helped.

Hope you and your family had a wonderful day whether you observe Memorial Day or not.

Save Early and Save Often

May 15th, 2016 at 06:36 pm

In six school days, I will end my career. Eight if you count next weekend. At one of the buildings, we had a potluck and a couple of young coaches asked the other lady and me how we could afford to retire. My response was "save early and save often." They laughed because that was always my response when working with our school improvement plan so we didn't lose data. Getting back to the laughter, it wasn't a chuckle because they thought it was funny. It was actually one of discomfort. I wasn't trying to make anyone uncomfortable, but so many of these young people claim they are jealous that I'm retiring because they want a carefree life, but they buy anything and everything their little hearts desire.

I won't say I have been the best saver and that I didn't buy things. I did. I bought things both which were good and some things which were just plain stupid. Hopefully I've gotten wiser. But so many of these "educated" folks don't understand money. There are about three or four of us in the group who actively save, do without things, and live as economically as we can. With the changes in the teachers' pension system for the newer hires, saving for retirement is far more important than it was when I started out.

I'm currently reading a book about not buying a lot of things in a year. It's different than the last one I read; the author says their rules are buying things they can use like food and things like that, but to be more conscious of spending money for things simply because you want something new. He said the goal is to own what you have instead of saving money. I'm curious how the book will end.

DH has been busy putting in his garden. We had a fear of frost last night, but it looks like we dodged that bullet. I hope we get lots of tomatoes this year since I like to can them and this year I won't have to rush around canning on weekends since I will be retired. Yahoo!

Rant Warning

April 24th, 2016 at 07:48 pm

Someone I know posted this url on Facebook and talked about how it is true -- so many can't come up with $400 in an emergency:

http://www.npr.org/2016/04/24/475432149/could-you-come-up-with-400-if-disaster-struck?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20160424

I know there are people out there due to circumstances beyond their control they don't have a decent income. I'm not writing about people like that. I'm writing about those who are not unemployed or underemployed. What I find amusing is the person who shared this has a good income, benefits, etc. This person doesn't save a penny, lost a home in foreclosure, has creditors calling about the unpaid bills, yet moans the job doesn't pay enough.Lots of shopping goes on. Lots of eating out and buying booze. Of course this person took a big vacation last year, went over Christmas to another vacation, and is planning a summer get-away.

I guess I'm getting old and tired of listening to people who won't help themselves whine how they don't have money.

26

April 17th, 2016 at 07:08 pm

Twenty-six...that's how many work days I have left. Someone asked me if I am getting emotional and I can honestly say I am not. I'm ready to be finished. State online testing has been a bear and somewhere along the line I injured my back, so coming home from work means all I want to do is rest. Last weekend I fixed some meals that I could just heat up and it certainly helped. Did have something slightly amusing happen -- I put our supper in the oven and was on the couch and fell asleep. I knew DH would wake me up because we eat at the same time each week night. Well, a friend who needed to talk came and supper wound up burning because I didn't feel like I could leave to get it out of the oven. So, best laid plans became cinders.

We went out with another couple and I guess I'm very old fashioned, but I think when you are with someone you haven't seen for quite awhile celebrating something, taking phone calls and texting is just plain rude. I can see answering the phone and if it isn't an emergency saying you'll call them back, but to have a full fledged conversation while we are sitting there. Then, to constantly text while you are sitting there -- all for non emergency things. We've been with them before and they've both received calls and talked at length while DH and I sit there. I've hinted that it is rude, but apparently we don't matter enough to get them to stop.

DH started his garden yesterday. He planted lettuce, radishes, and onions. He plans on planting carrots soon and then around Mother's Day tomatoes, bell peppers, and herbs. Usually we are beyond the fear of frost then. He doesn't have a big spot, but he makes uses of what he has. I look forward to preserving things this fall, especially since I won't have to rush around and do it on weekends because I won't be working.

We hit the thrift stores and a flea market yesterday. I found some nice greeting cards that were reasonable. I like sending cards and I still write notes so I try to find reasonably priced cards. I also found some crochet thread. Our church has a bazaar before the holidays and I wanted to crochet ornaments to donate. I found two skeins that were started and for a dollar each, felt they were a bargain. If I were doing a big project, I probably wouldn't have been satisfied with this, but since I'm just crocheting small things, this will work out fine. It also keeps my hands busy at night and I've noticed they don't get as stiff and sore.

A few weeks ago we donated a bunch of stuff to a thrift store that supports a charity we believe in. Are we weird that we went in to see if some of the stuff had sold?

Lurking

February 21st, 2016 at 07:22 pm

I've been sort of lurking around SA, but haven't had too much to say. I think it is because I'm coming home from work exhausted and after fixing supper and doing whatever else I need to do, I haven't the energy or brain power to write anything or feel like I have anything worth saying.

I finished a crocheted dresser scarf last night. I haven't crocheted for a number of years because it used to make my hands go numb. For whatever reason last summer, I found some thread tucked away and a small crochet hook and started making Christmas tree ornaments. I made one for each staff member at my school. It helped I didn't try to do them all at once. So, I thought I'd get a little brave and start a dresser scarf, just working a little at a time. It wasn't very wide because the area I wanted it wasn't very wide, but it turned out the way I had hoped and updated the look for around $4. It also kept my hands busy and I wasn't as tempted to snack if I crocheted. So, it was a cheap hobby.

I've been reading a lot. A group started a Facebook group that we post the title we read and what number for the year. The goal is to read 16 books because it is 2016. I'm at 17 and started #18. I continue to use our library so that saves money.

Yesterday was had a spring like day so DH and I went antiquing to a couple of small towns. We didn't buy anything, but had a nice time and did, as my dad used to say, "Got the stink blown off of us."

I've also been cooking a lot. Well, maybe a lot isn't the operative word. I continue to cook. I'm trying to fix stuff that we can get a couple of meals out of which makes it easier on me to get meals fixed when I get home as well as saving money. DH is fed and happy so that is what is what matters.

Odds and ends

January 30th, 2016 at 10:48 pm

Last Sunday I paid bills and then wrote out checks to different accounts. We have money in three different institutions. At one, we have a Christmas club, a vacation account, and a regular savings for house improvements. At another we are just putting money in it for reserve. I also wrote out a check for my Roth. DH informed me he took "my" money to all the places last week. I laughed and said when did it become "my" money since it is for both of us. He just laughed.

Before the holidays stores had quite a few things on sale we use so I stocked up. Our grocery bills this month haven't been very high other than fresh vegetables and dairy. It's weird going into the store and not buying a whole lot, but we aren't doing without so that is good. I'm trying to use up some of the things we have in our freezer as well. I have a pot of ham and beans cooking from the ham that was in the freezer and the broth I made from leftover bits and pieces from chicken. So other than the beans and a few spices, basically an almost "free" main dish.

School has been hectic. We are doing district testing and some folks can't keep to a schedule which stresses me out when they inconvenience others with their disorganization. DH keeps reminding me it won't be long before retirement.

The house smells pretty good right now -- I made a blueberry crumble for dessert tonight. We are having a pork roast with carrots for supper. I'm also roasting potatoes and zucchini casserole. It should be a decent meal. I figure if I have to have the oven on, I might as well fix lots of things in it.

We hit the thrift stores today and I found a mini flag for $1 that was for Valentine's Day. We have one of those mini flag holders in the front of the house, but I hate paying big bucks for the holiday ones so I thought I found a decent deal.

Catching up

November 15th, 2015 at 10:53 pm

It's been awhile since I've posted. Wish it was because I was so busy doing so many exciting things, but alas, it wasn't. The past few weeks have been a struggle because with my allergies and asthma, I've been not feeling the best. I think the worst of it is over and I feel better.

It seems like we've been spending a lot lately and I think we have. Granted, most of it was planned. We put away money all year in a Christmas account and last weekend we journeyed to a large mall where DH picked out what he wanted for Christmas. This past year we lost both our Penney's and our Sears so other than Kohls, we don't have many stores that have good bargain prices. I also bought a few things for other presents and have the majority of my shopping finished. I am planning on getting the envelopes addressed for Christmas cards, and in the next couple of weeks, will need to be doing some baking for our church's Christmas bazaar. We sell cookies by the pound so we need a lot of different types of cookies. It is a major fundraiser for our women's group and they give part of the money to missions and use the remainder for projects they have locally.

We did splurge and buy some new towels. I haven't had new towels in about a decade so that was a nice treat.

I wasn't happy that my router is going out. But, after 6 years, I guess I'm lucky it lasted this long.

I have a family night this week so I had to plan a meal that I could eat early and DH could heat up on his own. I made a huge pot of soup yesterday for tonight's supper and there should be plenty for at least one more meal and maybe a could of lunches.

Last night I made something I hadn't tried before. There is probably a recipe for it somewhere, but I was trying to chop vegetables for the soup, so I chopped onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms and sauted them in a little olive oil. Then I cut up some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and sauted them. I added a can of cream of chicken soup. While I was doing this, I was boiling spaghetti. I used some of the pasta water to add to the soup/meat mixture and let it cook down, then added a little more and added the spaghetti and let it cook together for a couple of minutes. I added some shredded cheese, mixed it all together and served it in a bowl. DH loved it. We also had enough leftover for two lunches after he had four helpings. Smile Cheap meal and basically I was already chopping vegetables and I only used spaghetti because I had some left in a box. I could have used any pasta I think.

We are looking forward to Thanksgiving. I have been posting on Facebook something I'm grateful every day, many so I think about how good my life is. I am grateful for my SA friends because I feel we help each other and support each other.

Frost

October 18th, 2015 at 08:13 pm

Lots of things going on at our house.

We had a projected killing frost this weekend, so a lot of time was spent getting tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and onions picked. DH pulled up a lot of the plants Friday night and the rest yesterday, including his flowers and the herbs. I spent a big part of Friday night cleaning vegetables and yesterday I did some canning. The pantry is looking pretty nice. We had bought some apples on sale too, so I canned some apple juice, apple jelly, and apple sauce, and I made some bell pepper soup. We will have some of the soup tonight and I canned 3 quarts and a pint of it for the pantry. A fellow who does landscaping stopped by to talk to us and he was saying his wife has gotten caught up in the blood moon conspiracy theory and has gone crazy canning since she is afraid there won't be food available. Funny, there was something on a program saying if Martial Law would go into effect, we would be hard pressed to find food. I don't subscribe to all this, but it could be scary if you thought about it and believed it. I just like to save money and know where our food is coming from.

My school district has this wellness program where they encourage you to get a screening during certain days they have set up. The screening can be as simple as a blood test for the basics, or you can pay for extra stuff, and they included a free flu shot. I had already gotten my flu shot, but I did the basic screening. Supposedly if you signed up by a certain time, at the end of the year you will get a $75 "refund" since we pay a portion of our health insurance. I like to keep track of my vitals, so the blood test wasn't a problem and the refund this spring will be a nice bonus.

This was my payday so I finished paying bills and then figured out what goes into savings. This is the last month to put money in Christmas club since they send us the check the first of November. We have a decent amount in it. So, in November I will start over for the next Christmas. We are also saving up for a new roof. We have a few years, but figure we should have the money so we can negotiate when the time comes. I truly believe "cash is king" when it comes to these matters. When we met with our financial adviser last summer, I was afraid he would get upset over our different savings accounts. He actually applauded us for saving up for things. We have a vacation account as well and then we have regular savings. It isn't like we are actually losing a lot of interest since interest rates aren't paying squat anywhere. I like having the different accounts because it makes it easier for us to keep track. We also don't have all of our bank accounts at the same bank.

We received our water bill and there is a flyer with it. On the back of it was a photo of a rain barrel...it looks like our rain barrel! The flyer said there could be a credit if you use something like this for storm water run off. So, I need to call the city to find out if we can get that credit at some point. Every little bit helps.

DH has been fighting some squirrels. They like to dig up his front yard because they are burying nuts for the winter. DH loves his front yard and doesn't want a bunch of holes. So, I am being entertained by him running out the front door to chase the squirrels and it gives him some exercise too.

What a weekend

October 4th, 2015 at 09:33 pm

This has been a busy weekend. After getting off work, we drove about 45 minutes to pick up a bookcase we ordered to replace one. I'm trying to get things bought that we want before I retire such as furniture. We had saved for it so it wasn't an unexpected expense, but it came sooner than they said. So, I left work, we went to pick it up, ate supper, unloaded the piece, and then went to the first of two nights of celebration for my husband's class reunion. He had a wonderful time and was so happy we went. Of the two evenings, it was very reasonable -- we each bought an ice tea so that was the cost. He was a little worried that when we got home I was in bed by 10 p.m. I tried to explain after working all week and getting things done at home in the evenings I wasn't ill, just exhausted.

Saturday was busy doing some of the things I normally do on Friday night like grocery shop and laundry. We had the nice dinner for his reunion and it was a very nice evening. We dressed up. A friend teased me I needed to buy a new "frock" for the gala event, and we laughed and laughed at that. I said I didn't think they had a frock department. We both wore things we already owned. So other than paying for the dinner which we did earlier this summer, we didn't spend anything else.



Today was church and then brunch, then house cleaning and moving the new bookcase in and the old one out. After brunch I put a whole chicken I got on sale yesterday in the Crockpot. I had a bag of navy beans in the pantry that I soaked overnight. White chicken chili sounded good for a supper one night this week and then we will have enough for lunches. I made sweet pepper soup yesterday for tonight's supper and lunch tomorrow. We still have bell peppers coming on and I figure why not make use of them?

I think I'm a little crazy, but I enjoy cooking and it some ways it relaxes me when I can put things together and have something good to eat. One of the local restaurants advertised Sunday brunch for $12.99 each. I guess that isn't too expensive; we haven't eaten brunch out in years because after church we come home and I fix sausage, scrambled eggs, toast, cheesy grits, and fruit salad. I tease DH we could go out, but he loves what we have on Sundays and we figure we save a wad of money eating in.

It's Easier to Complain

September 6th, 2015 at 09:54 pm

It is easier to complain than to do something.

OK, that isn't a novel idea, is it? Personally, I'm just about fed up with the whining and complaining of some of the people who call themselves friends. Maybe it is because I'm just tired. Between work and home, I've been very busy and with the extreme hot temperatures, my patience is thin.

Every time we see one couple, they have to go into great detail about their illnesses. Even when we receive an email it is a laundry list of this and that. The gentleman tends to exaggerate his problems...it is like when he is tested for cancer, he wants to have cancer. If a doctor says something could turn into cancer, he brags he is a cancer survivor. I think it is ridiculous; we have friends who are cancer survivors who fought bravely and some lost the battle. I think his is more attention seeking. As we age, I know our bodies start breaking down. I am not denying that, but some of the problems they have could be prevented by making other choices. They, of course, do not want to hear that. I wish I could find a nice way to say I don't want graphic details of their health issues. There is another couple we associate with that if she doesn't turn the conversation to how much she hurts, she must consider it a waste of a conversation. I no longer ask these people how they are because I don't want to hear more details than I can handle. Yet they persist in telling me. So, I have the struggle of being a friend and listening yet inside I'm screaming, "Noooo. Don't tell me anymore!"

This is the same with with money issues. One couple always complains they have studied their budget and they need to save money. So, they use coupons when they eat out. Of course they eat out every day. It has gotten to the point it is embarrassing to eat with them because they want to use a coupon and press the server in letting them use it even if they don't follow the standards the coupon states. I don't mind the use of coupons -- I just don't like people to try and cheat by using them. If I suggest they eat at home, I get excuses on why they need to eat out.

We know this other family that is always complaining they need more money -- she left for the weekend to go to a party in Chicago. Meanwhile they need some major home repairs and she will soon be whining about that. Her justification is she needed to get away and be with the girls.

For so many, Facebook has become Whinebook.

OK, rant over. Thanks for reading. sorry I whined.

In other news I have been figuring out new ways to use bell peppers. DH planted just a few plants, but have they gone to town. What a great problem to have, right? Supper tonight is sweet pepper and tomato soup. Last night I made sweet pepper jelly (found the recipe on Pinterest) and we will be having it over cream cheese and having crackers. We have shared some of the peppers with friends too.

My pantry is filling up. I canned one quart and two half pints of tomato juice last night, as well as having some of the juice for our soup tonight. Last weekend I canned 3 quarts of sweet pickles -- I gave one quart to the lady who shared the cucumbers with me.

One of the local stores had quite a flyer out on sale items. We bought quite a few things to stock the pantry on things we normally buy. I spent a couple evenings last week inventorying what I already had and then matching coupons to stuff on sale.

No school tomorrow so that is a wonderful holiday to look forward to. Plus, the stock market won't be open which the way it has been dropping, that might be a good thing.

Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend.

Catching Up

August 23rd, 2015 at 06:20 pm

It's been a busy couple of weeks. School started for teachers August 13 and students returned August 17. We had some very hot days (most of our schools are not air conditioned.) But, like most educators, we are optimistic about a good year. We have a new principal at our building this year and if the last 7 days are any indication, he's going to be a winner! A strong leader makes a workplace so much better.

DH planted a small garden and we have been enjoying tomatoes, peppers, onions, and herbs. We had hoped to get more tomatoes this year so I could can quite a few, but our tomatoes have really dropped off. A friend and her brother have kept us supplied in green beans. Another friend gave us some sweet corn. And I have acquired cucumbers to make pickles from a variety of places. I have canned what I could and have quite a few things for our pantry. There is something about looking at what we have that makes me feel good. Weird, eh?

Before school began, I had meetings in the district. It was funny how old habits pop up. We were given ample time to go out to eat. I took my lunch and ate there and worked and I took my coffee instead of stopping and getting some for the morning. It was interesting because some of the folks were already complaining how money was tight. Imagine that!

I plan on retiring at the end of this school year. I didn't get a special deal or retirement bonus or anything. Someone asked me how I could plan to retire so soon (I'll be 55.) I said we saved and paid off things. Our home is paid for. Both vehicles are paid off. Other than our every day spending and bills, we don't have any outstanding bills. Basically, we have lived below our means. We met with our financial advisor last summer and when he saw our budget, he was astounded. He said that so many folks "finance" everything and are never prepared at this stage in their lives. So, unless we have some major thing come up, we should be doing OK.

I was telling a young person the other day I was planning on retiring and we were talking about Roths and 403bs. He said he and his wife don't have money to save. I told him he needed to find money to save, even a little bit, because it is over the years that it increases. I could tell he really didn't want to think about how to save money; it is far easier to complain you don't have it instead of trying to figure out ways to save it.

Our meals for this week:
brunch: scrambled eggs, sausage, grits, toast, fruit
BLTs
Baby back ribs, mashed potatoes, greens beans, fruit
Pork tenderloin roast with carrots and onions, roasted potatoes
Leftover roast with sweet potatoes and green beans
Quiche with leftover sausage, sliced tomatoes
Chicken with barbecue sauce, roasted potatoes with peppers and onions, roasted vegetables, fruit

Sultry Sunday

August 16th, 2015 at 09:09 pm

Geeze, it is hot out there. They predicted 90 and my car thermometer said it was 91 over an hour ago. So glad we have a/c. I remember growing up we didn't and sleeping wasn't easy being hot and sticky. I know we are very blessed now, even if we do complain about the bills.

Started back to school last Thursday. Our building is not air conditioned and it was warm. I dread tomorrow after it being closed up all weekend and so hot. The good thing is this is my last year; my intention is to retire at the end of this school year. Some of my friends are already doing a countdown of school days.

My church is doing a capital campaign and last Sunday I posted on Facebook a query -- if I baked something would people be willing to donate for whatever it was? I had a decent response. Last Monday I dropped off a loaf of zucchini bread and today I baked 5 loaves of banana bread. Two have been delivered and three go tomorrow. Tomorrow evening I am fixing a meal for a neighbor for a donation as well. People have been generous so that has been nice.

One of my older friends no longer emails, so I have been writing her a letter every weekend and mailing it. She says it is like getting to visit with me each week, so that's kind of nice. Do you still write letters?

It's getting near supper time. We are going to have some leftover pork roast from the other night with some leftover vegetables, but I think I will have to come up with some starch. I like the option of cooking once and having a meal or two off of whatever was fixed, even if I have to add to it. Saves money and time.

Goodbye Summer!

August 12th, 2015 at 08:01 pm

Today is the last day of my summer vacation as school begins for staff tomorrow and the students return on Monday.

What a summer this has been. I can't say I've saved a ton, but what we spent was anticipated. We planned on taking two small trips and everything was paid for.

I did wind up buying more canning jars than I anticipated, but that is a mixed blessing, no? It will be nice having the food this winter and not buying as many groceries.

As an educator, it is always exciting to begin a new year, but it is also sad to think my vacation time is over. Yes, I know, that's the beauty of vacation...enjoying the time off, but returning to work.

One thing I'm not looking forward to is packing lunches again. I don't mind fixing lunches at home, I just dread packing lunches to take to work. I don't know why, it isn't difficult. I guess it is just knowing I have a limited amount of time to eat and I don't want to have to little or too much, and there are some days the pickings are slim...that's when I resort to crackers and peanut butter from the pantry. Oh, well. My eating from stuff at home saves us money so we can do all those fun things during the summer.

Out and About

July 31st, 2015 at 08:48 pm

DH and I went to the Amana Colonies on Monday. It is about 4 hours away from our home here in Illinois. We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast and enjoyed two meals in Amana. Breakfast the following morning included two different types of quiche, toast made from homemade bread, oatmeal, muffins, and fruit. They had two different juices available: mango and orange. DH cannot drink orange juice because of his acid reflux so he tried the mango and really liked it. We were back home Tuesday in time to have supper. It was a nice getaway and we had saved the money to go and fortunately gas prices weren't too expensive. Here is a photo of our room:


Since being back, I told a friend that I wish I could make some mango juice. The next day she messaged me that Kroger had mangoes on sale for 99 cents. I bought some and made two quarts...DH said it was just like what he had and was delighted.

DH harvest our garlic and I cleaned and minced it last night and packed it with some olive oil. A friend gave us some a few years ago to plant and we've been doing it ever since. I keep the minced stuff in the fridge.

I decided to try and make some more pickles and followed the recipe for bread and butter ones. It said to wait for a few weeks before eating them so they can get the full flavor. I canned 5 pints and one half pint.

I also canned two more quarts of tomato juice this week. Unfortunately with the lack of rain and the heat, our tomatoes are starting to slow down. Hope we get some more before this fall because I'd like to have a few more to can and have on hand.

Yesterday I pulled up the remainder of the radishes. DH had tried a second planting and we got a few, but the excessive heat kept them from growing like they should. We have had a bunny eating the lettuce so there isn't too much left. I did pick some yesterday and wash and put it in the fridge before he got the rest.

One of our local stores (it is a chain around here) sends out a coupon book at the first of every month. Usually it is for things we don't buy, but this month they had potatoes as part of the coupon. I used quite a few coupons this time for things we normally use...the prices are really cheap. I bought two boxes of tissue for 69 cents each. I need it for school because I leave it out on my desk so at that reasonable price, it isn't too expensive. Our grocery bills continue to be lower since we are using so much produce either DH has grown or has been given to us.

The friend I wrote about early did a nice surprise...she took some of the bell peppers we have been sharing with her and stuffed them and gave them back so we could have them for supper. There was enough for a couple of meals.

Another hot weekend scheduled. I don't think we will be going too far. I'm happy to be home and read a library book.

Meow Tomatoes and other Vegetables

July 26th, 2015 at 06:46 pm

No, I haven't found a new hybrid of tomatoes...it comes from that mixed blessing auto-correct.

My friend has a garden and DH has a garden. Her tomatoes aren't doing very well due to her gardening flooding in June, but she has been sharing green beans with us. So, we've been sharing tomatoes and bell peppers with her. I emailed her the other day to ask if she needed some more tomatoes, but auto-correct changed it to meow tomatoes so that has been the joke around here lately.

Speaking of produce, I've canned 2 quarts and 1 pint of tomato juice and 2 quarts of tomatoes. A friend gave us some sweet corn and I canned it and have 2 quarts. My before mentioned friend gave us some green beans and I canned 3 pints of them in addition to having some for the table.

There's a small town near us called Arthur that is well known for having many Amish residents. There is a bulk food store called Beachy's. We go there and purchase sausage patties, spices, and when needed different types of flour. They had a container of small cucumbers that looked ideal for pickles. Mind you, I've never made pickles, but the cost of the cucumbers was 75 cents and I had salt, vinegar and sugar at home as well as mustard and celery seed. I found a recipe in all recipes for sweet pickles, followed it and wound up with almost a quart in the fridge and 3 pints canned of sweet pickles. I'm a little bit proud of myself for this because I've never made them before. My mom, when I asked her to let me help or show me how to can, told me I was too stupid to do it. I taught myself to can last summer with tomatoes, applesauce, and green beans. So, I'm venturing out.

Another friend gifted us with a large yellow squash and zucchini. I sliced and roasted the squash with some onions and extra virgin olive oil. I made zucchini patties out of the large zucchini. The recipe is simple -- grate the zucchini, grate a small onion and piece of bell pepper with it. Add an egg and bread crumbs to make patties and saute in hot oil, browning both sides. I added a little cumin and tumeric to the patties while I was mixing it, but I'm sure you can add whatever you want. DH loves them and I hadn't made them in quite awhile and he asked for them again tonight. Good thing that was a large zucchini!

With all the garden stuff, our grocery bill was pretty reasonable -- less than $50 which is pretty low since we eat a lot of meals at home.

Eight Cents

June 5th, 2015 at 07:56 pm

A number of years ago I found a blue colander at a garage sale...enameled, nice size...very handy. Somewhere along the way a screw came loose on a handle and it was lost. I decided that when we were out and about, I would take it to a local Ace Hardware store because it is a small store and the gentlemen have always been very helpful.

We waited for help as he helped someone else, and I showed him the colander and explained I needed something that would fix it...he searched and found something he thought would work and it was... 8 cents. We also bought an end cap for the wagon wheel for the little wagon DH uses to haul stuff around the yard. Even with that, it was $2, far cheaper than buying new.

In other news, we have been saving change for the past year. DH more than I because I rarely buy things with cash -- he pays for stuff when we go out with cash, and I use the credit card for groceries and clothes and pay it off every month. But, when I do have extra change I throw it in. We had three pickle jars -- one was small and the other a little larger...$179 and some odd cents. We deposited it in the bank yesterday as part of our vacation fund.

I'm happy the handle is back on. DH will be happy to have the wheel working again. Plus we are looking forward to a nice vacation.

Spendy Days

May 31st, 2015 at 06:45 pm

May and June seem to be spendy times around here. Part of it is because we have homeowner's insurance and car insurance coming due and then the property taxes come due around the first of June. Sunday afternoons are usually spent paying bills and reconciling the checkbook.

This week was especially expensive. On Wednesday we met friends for supper out for her birthday. On Thursday we spent the night in a hotel since they were blowing insulation foam into our crawl space and we couldn't stay in our house which meant supper out again. Breakfast was included with the room so that was good, but it also meant driving an extra 20 minutes to get to work on Friday. I planned that I wouldn't be able to take my Thermos with coffee so I had taken coffee in a fruit jar and put it in the fridge at school. Added creamer and had "iced" coffee instead of hot. It was fine and at least saved money there. Since we couldn't yet get back to the house, we wound up eating lunch out -- well, DH ate it out, he stopped and bought a sandwich for me to eat at school. We ate out again Friday night -- wow three days in a row. We have friends who eat out every night and I personally do not know how they do it. I was happy to eat at home last night as was DH.

It seems like the end of the school year is always kind of expensive anyway. Our administrator is retiring as is another staff member, and two people are leaving so of course there was the collection for their gifts. Then, another person is having a baby so there was money for a shower gift. Our staff decided to do secret pal stuff this year and I don't know who decided we needed to do an end of the year gift of $25, but I thought that was a little outrageous.

Granted, I'm griping. I have the money for all of this. All those meals we ate in and all those leftovers that were repurposed and consumed allowed for that. Those coupons that were clipped and sales that were used allowed us to have the money for all that. Perhaps I'm just become so tight I hate spending money.

I know we will spend money in June too. It is our 25th wedding anniversary and we are renewing our vows. Small ceremony under the huge oak tree we were married under. Our pastor being the kind soul that he is said all he wanted in terms of a fee was 3 chocolate chip cookies from each of us. I've already given him a dozen...that man has a sweet tooth and I know it! We are going to have professional photos taken since we didn't have them for our wedding. We have invited 3 close friends to the ceremony and we are treating them and our pastor to lunch. Not a huge expense overall, but we think it will be nice.

Speaking of weddings, Mary Hunt of Everyday Cheapskate said she interviewed someone that said the typical wedding costs over $31,000. Yowza! That is a heap of money! That makes my spendy days look like chicken feed!

Save some to spend some

May 24th, 2015 at 07:13 pm

We've been spending money at the local garden center. DH has a decent vegetable garden for the small space available and yesterday he bought some flowers. He enjoys gardening so it is relaxing for him and the vegetables are pretty darn tasty.

Yesterday's plants were a bit pricey and he probably could have gotten fewer and less expensive ones. I pointed out that we save money on other things so we can spend it on things we really want.

A couple we know love to spend. Last fall he was telling us how they had custom made curtains for their kitchen windows. Two windows. Not picture windows or extra tall windows. Just basic kitchen windows. And the tally: $1500. We've viewed these pieces of cloth at the window -- they are nice curtains, but I can't see where they are worth $1500. But that is how they roll -- all the curtains and drapes are custom made and cost thousands of dollars. Yet, they moan and gripe about being short of money. They hit the home equity quite a bit and have taken out personal loans to finance vacations and other odds and ends.

I like nice things too, but last year I hit a garage sale and found two brand new in the package sheers that matched the curtains I found on sale. All in all, I spent about $32 for curtains and sheers and was pleased. This friend told my husband I must not care about him since I spent so little on the window coverings. DH looked at me and said he didn't think that was so; he thought they looked OK. What a strange mindset.

So this weekend, other than buying the flowers, we are working around here. I'm getting ready to pick some radishes that are a little larger than we prefer for raw eating. I saw a recipe on roasting them and it looked pretty good. Here is the url:

http://www.thekitchn.com/roasted-radishes-are-the-vegetable-thats-missing-from-your-life-215614

Supper is pork loin, mashed potatoes, carrots, radishes, and cottage cheese. The pork loin and carrots will make up another meal later this week. Yet another way to save money so we have it for other things...and those other things WILL NOT be $1500 custom curtains!

Thinking things through

May 17th, 2015 at 06:44 pm

Last week we ate out with another couple to celebrate birthdays. It was a reasonably priced meal and planned in our budget.

The conversation was about what this couple was planning on doing. They've always been spenders, not savers. But they laid out their plans...a fancy vacation and taking the whole family. This is in addition to going south for the winter, and all the other things they are constantly doing, not to mention all the things they are buying.

After we parted, I asked DH if we were too careful. This summer we are planning a short vacation in addition to celebrating our 25th anniversary. After hearing all the things this other couple were doing, it made me feel like a stick in the mud.

Yesterday we went to the library and checked out some magazines and books. We went to the grocery store and bought things on our list for our planned menus. DH bought bell pepper plants to put in his garden. We came home and he worked in his small garden. I picked radishes, green onions, and lettuce and made a small salad as I prepared things for two meals: roast pork loin for supper and Italian wedding soup for Sunday's supper. Hubby mowed and I did laundry. Last night after cleaning up and showering, we watched some television and read some magazines, and went to bed satisfied we had a nice day.

Thinking back on Friday's conversation and my original thoughts, no, we aren't boring. I think we are more satisfied. Upon reflection, these people are always telling us all the cool things they are doing and how their family is superior and their other friends are better and so on and so forth. DH and I are happy with each other. Unlike this couple, we feel financially secure. We know that this couple will have to finance this vacation.

Knowing that things don't bring happiness, sort of helps me put things in perspective. I don't have to one up these folks on things to be happy. I don't have to finance my vacation because we save and plan for ours. And, finding enjoyment in the simple things I think is important because then we don't have to continue searching for bigger and better things to make life more exciting.

Thanks for letting me sort this out.

Dibs and Dabs

May 3rd, 2015 at 07:07 pm

Almost every Sunday I fix the same thing for supper: sloppy chicks which are like sloppy joes made with ground chicken. Not exciting, but DH likes them and it means we have a hot meal and he has a couple of lunches besides.

Being frugal, I have noticed that there are times when DH doesn't use all of the sloppy chick mixture. There usually isn't enough for him to have a good sized sandwich. So, I usually put it in a small container and put it in the freezer. Yesterday, I decided to see how many of these containers I had and if there was enough for a meal. So, after taking all the dibs and dabs out, I had enough for a meal and leftovers too.

Before church I put some beans to cook in the Crockpot. I soaked them overnight. I thought they would be a nice addition to sloppy chicks. Actually what gave me the idea was I saw some baked beans on sale in the grocery flyer and thought I should use up some of the dried beans I had in the pantry.

It is beautiful here in Central Illinois. Actually fairly warm...feels like early summer instead of spring. DH worked very hard to put in 9 tomato plants, 2 rosemary plants, and 2 sage plants yesterday. Normally he plants on Mother's Day weekend, but since the forecast is calling for temps in the 80s this week, he thought it was safe to plant this weekend and give them a head start. His radishes, onions, and lettuce are all up and his carrots are just beginning to pop through. Hopefully it will be a productive gardening year!

I was thinking about how much we save by repurposing some of our leftovers. We spent around $142 this week at Aldi and County Market. A couple of things weren't food items, but cleaning items that were on sale and I had coupons. Considering that money goes for 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 suppers, plus snacks, I don't think that is too bad. We eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. We have cut down on our meat consumption...I may buy a small pork tenderloin roast and it will make up 2-3 meals. And the freezer and Crockpot are my good friends as they store and cook for me.

How did I make that????

April 26th, 2015 at 09:57 pm

At lunch Friday we were talking about meals. Food is a big topic at lunch, imagine that!

One lady was talking about making a casserole...she has to eat gluten free so it is tricky to find things. She said she added a dash of this and that and when she finished, it was so good her husband told her she could make that any time she wanted. She laughed and said she just started pulling things out of the pantry and fridge.

I made vegetable soup last week and DH said it was best he's had in a while, and that wasn't a reflection on bad soup on my part. He said it just seemed to have lots more flavor.

I admitted the chances of making it again the same were pretty slim. The overall idea would be the same, and I used tomatoes I canned which made it different. That is a given. I had been using stuff in the pantry as far as tomato things that needed to be used before they got too close to the use by date. But that isn't the reason.

You see, my secret was for the past couple of months I've been saving those bits and pieces of vegetables we didn't eat. How many times did we have green beans where we had so few left over that it wouldn't be enough for a serving, but...

Same thing with some the roasts...I kept the onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms that were let over. The same with zucchini and squash that I had roasted. I had a decent sized bag of leftover vegetables that had been cooked and we didn't eat all of, but not enough for another meal.So, I bought some beef on sale and browned it. I dumped all vegetables in the soup, added some fresh onions and some other vegetables and cooked it with chicken broth I also had in the freezer. Added the tomatoes and barley and yowza...what a soup.

We had two and half meals out of that soup and considering most of it was leftover vegetables, I felt like we saved money, not to mention eating healthy.

Just rambling on...

April 25th, 2015 at 06:02 pm

It's just rainy Saturday.

DH and I did a couple of errands and were pleased to get home and dry off.

I'm enjoying myself with a cup of tea and reading SA blogs before I begin house cleaning. That silly maid didn't show up again and neither did the laundress. So, it falls on me. But, seriously, I am blessed to have a nice home and clothes and sheets to wash.

Work has been all encompassing and I have come home exhausted both mentally and physically. We begin state testing again next week so meal planning is very important.

Last time we had state testing (about a month ago) there were some nights it was very tempting to go out. DH offered and I refused. Afterwards I point out that we wouldn't have eaten any sooner (I really don't like fast food), and it would have cost more and certainly wouldn't have been healthier.

My principal was kidding me the other day about my big Thermos of coffee. He said he sees me with it every day. He's correct. I do have it. I "fix" the coffee pot every evening so all I have to do it turn it on when I get up. No, I don't set the timer because I unplug it after I get my coffee and plug it in when I'm ready for it to brew. Anyway, he was sort of making fun of me in a meeting about it and I said, well, it's far cheaper than buying coffee at the gas station every morning...you see, he buys his every morning. I know he looks at me like I'm a crazy woman for my Thermos, but it not only saves me money, but I get to fix coffee the way I like it.

Yesterday's lunch was basically a clean out the fridge type lunch...some leftovers and an apple. I take a lot of leftovers though and my lunch buddies have gotten to the point where they ask me for recipes because they like what I'm eating. Every time I eat something repurposed, I feel like I've saved some money.

Not much on the horizon as far as my life...trying to get through to the end of the year and stay healthy. Although people were complaining about the rain today, we are below our average for this time of the year. DH has started his garden and was kind of hoping a nice rain would help his plants. He's looking forward to a little warmer weather and has been planning on what he's going to grow...we have a very small area...and what he wants to eat. Truly, the way to his heart is through his stomach.

Heard lots of conversations at work about all the places people were going this weekend. Lots of shopping was involved. Other than groceries, there isn't much we need or want at this point.

I'm wondering if I'm getting old when I don't have to been entertained every minute and I don't have to worry about going out, but am happy with being home with my love and enjoying a cup of tea. Or perhaps I've just become a little more wise.

Sunny Saturday...is spring here?

April 11th, 2015 at 07:18 pm

It's a beautiful day here...sunny, not too cold. DH is out starting the garden. He feels he got a late start...the ground was too wet two weeks ago and then last weekend he was down in the back. At least he's starting and he's happiest playing in the dirt.

I haven't posted much lately simply because I haven't had much to say. I didn't want to post simply to post. I've been reading the blogs, and every so often commenting.

We are starting to get some financial statements...some look good, some showed a little loss. Just a sign of the times, I guess.

One of the people I know who was gung ho about watching spending has fallen off the savings band wagon. The query is do you say something and risk getting this person upset or just hope they realize the error of this? I know, rhetorical question. I'm choosing not to say anything because I don't think it would be well received. I also know this person might respond that we spend money. I won't deny it. Most of our big expenditures are planned. We will be celebrating out 25th wedding anniversary in June and we hope to take a trip as part of it. We have vacation money saved up so it simply will be using part of the fund for that. We had to have a branch cut that was too far off the ground for a mere mortal to get, and we had the money set aside. We go out to eat with friends, but it is money budgeted. Plus, I'm older than this person, and I have fewer bills because I've been paying stuff off and saving.

After all the storms we've had the past few days, the lovely, calmer weather is a true treat. Hope you are enjoying beautiful weather as well. I'm off to continue cleaning since the maid didn't show yet again...she never shows! LOL

Spend some to save some

March 28th, 2015 at 11:47 pm

I know it sounds contradictory, but sometimes I have to spend some money to save some money.

Last weekend we made three trips to Farm and Fleet. Fortunately it is very close to our house. But we saw a garbage can on sale and needed to replace ours since it has split. (DH has also wanted a mini tiller so he looked and bought...he said as he gets older it is getting harder to kneel and try to spade the soil by hand. I don't think we will actually save money on the tiller because he doesn't have a big plot, but he's happy. I figure I'm lucky he loves working in the yard instead of out boozing and getting into trouble.)

The third trip was to take the lawnmower there to get a tune up. It hasn't been tuned up or the blade sharpened in a number of years. We dropped it off and they worked on it and we picked it up today. It came to $62 for the tune up. Far cheaper than purchasing a new mower and since the mower still worked before taking it in, I think it was money well spent. So, I think in the long run we will save money by spending some.

Today I put a turkey breast in the slow cooker. The slow cooker is one I bought at a flea market for $10 a few years ago. It works great, looks nice, and although I have other slow cookers, it is a just the right size for this meal. That turkey breast will make up at least two meals so having spent money on that slow cooker a number of years ago, I think I'm saving money by cooking at home.

Speaking of slow cookers, I have 4 of them, counting the one previously mentioned. They are all different sizes. The $10 one is actually programmable which makes it even nicer, but I think I've saved a ton of money by using these wonderful appliances. So, by spending money, I've probably saved a bunch.

I opened up a jar of green beans I canned last summer. I'm not sure I saved very much money by canning since I had to buy some of the stuff outright to get started, but I do think they tasted better than the stuff from the store and I will have the jars and rings for the next time I can. Maybe I'll save money.

I've been watching thrift shops for canning jars and have purchased quite a few of the smaller pint ones. I read you can freeze things in these if they are straight up and down if you don't fill it to the very top so there is room for expansion. I did freeze some tomato sauce last summer with some of the small jars and I think it helps me save money as I use this stuff. I have also been using the tomatoes I canned last summer. Tonight, I finished up with the equivalent of about 5 quarts of broth. I had made chicken broth earlier this week and put it in the fridge to chill and today I had a bunch of turkey broth and it is also going to be frozen. I like keeping broth in the freezer so I have it when I want to make soups and stews. I spent money buying chicken and turkey for meals and used the leftover broth to freeze so I have it for other things.

I've been stocking up on things like soap and shampoo since there have been coupons for the stuff we use as well as sales. There was a sale on buy one, get one free and then there was a coupon for 50 cents off in the paper, so I felt like I had a good deal. It is stuff we normally use so I felt like although I didn't need two bottles right now, by buying them and having them, I'll save money so I don't have to get them at full price when I'm actually totally out.

I bought some orange oil when it was on sale awhile back and used it to wash and moisturize our kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities and bathroom trim and doors. That stuff isn't exactly cheap, but I think it sure helps preserve and clean the wood and hopefully help me save these pieces.

I spent $3 to wash my vehicle the other day at the car wash. It's not perfectly clean, but we've had so much salt on the roads and streets from this winter and although our snow is gone (hopefully won't return for a long time), when it rains, the puddles still have salt. I felt the $3 to wash the vehicle will help me save my vehicle from the damage salt could do to it.

So, I've been spending. We will be spending some big bucks in a bit...we are going to have insulation installed in our crawl space. We had an energy audit and he was shocked there wasn't any insulation down there. We are also going to add to the insulation in the attic. We are talking spending big bucks, but hopefully in the coming years, it will make our power bills a bit more reasonable and hopefully the floors a whole lot warmer.

Do you agree? Do you have sometimes have to spend money to save money?

A Little "Catch Up"

March 16th, 2015 at 11:42 pm

Life seems to be flying by lately. We are doing PARCC testing and my days at work seem to be getting longer and longer as I go in even earlier to get the computer lab ready before we begin testing. Testing means walking and monitoring and trying to keep both students and teachers calm. It almost seems like my life is a little out of control since I am so busy with the testing and can't get too much else done. I'm coming home totally beat and my back and legs are tired and sore. I've been wearing sneakers and have two different pair I alternate.

This weekend I was trying to play "catch up" with stuff at home. I haven't felt like doing a lot of cleaning or laundry during the week so it means I'm trying to do all of this on the weekend. I've done fairly well on keeping dinner on the table most nights. It means a lot of planning which I don't mind.

Yesterday I was so tired and achy that after church and brunch I relaxed on the couch for an hour and took some Ibuprofen. Right now strep throat and the flu seem to be taking our school by storm and I don't want to get ill for a number of reasons, one being my missing testing would be a big problem since there doesn't seem to be anyone who would step up to manage it. Fortunately the rest and the meds seemed to help. I was still tired, but less achy and I did get my housework and laundry completed. I also put together the dough for some homemade bread. And I put short ribs in the Crockpot for tonight's supper and I can say they were delicious.

I was thinking last night about a neighbor of mine. When I was three, my folks moved from a country setting to the city and bought an old store building. My dad worked for Coke, but he also wanted to run a furniture store. So we moved and I stood in the back yard (not really a yard because it was all gravel) calling "Simon! Simon! Simon!"

The Chipmunks were popular when I was younger. A neighbor thought at first I had a brother, but when none showed, she finally said, "Yes!" and she became Simon to me for the rest of her life.

She was quite the blessing to me -- taught me many things including how to cook.

Every week she would bake bread. She had a certain recipe that she baked for her husband because he was diabetic. I remember smelling the wonderful aroma and if I were lucky that day, she would cut off part of the end, or heel, and butter it, and that would be our treat. It was wonderful and she was wonderful.

Yesterday as I put together the ingredients for some bread, I thought how fortunate I was to have had her in my life and the fact that I watched her and learned how to bake bread. A friend of ours had a bread machine and she said she couldn't get a decent loaf out of it. DH says he is amazed how easy I make it look. I've even demonstrated bread making for some of our classes at school because we think it is important for our children to realize bread doesn't just come from the store.

My friend, Simon, also taught me about making use of things and not wasting and stocking up when things are on sale.

More importantly, she loved me and made me feel like I had worth. I just hope that I do the same for someone else.

Sunny Sunday

February 22nd, 2015 at 08:32 pm

After yesterday's snow storm, today it is clear and sunny, but cold. Hey's it's winter in the midwest and I'm blessed to have a snug little home with central heating! Yesterday was certainly a no spend day because we didn't leave the place.

Tomorrow DH goes to make the last car payment on his vehicle. We did get a loan for three years, paid it off in two, simply because we figured we better have some kind of loan to keep our credit scores going. After this month, the car "payment" goes into savings so we have money for a good down payment on the next vehicle down the road.We haven't had a mortgage for a number of years so we thought we ought to "borrow" a bit of money for a little bit of time.

I was glad to see the stock market closed up on Friday due to Greece working out some financial deal. It sure would be nice to get some money on investments since interest rates for savings and CDs are so darn low.

After church we had brunch and then we did some house cleaning. I try to clean by a certain schedule and touch up in between.

After cleaning it is bill paying then I reward myself with some email, Facebook, and SA time.

I check my spam folder every so often to make sure something hasn't gotten in there that shouldn't before I clean it out. I have to chuckle at some of the things in that folder...I guess the spammers must think I'm a guy because there are lots of emails for enlargement of a piece of anatomy I don't currently possess, "ladies" wanting to meet and marry me, women wanting to date me and sleep with me, as well as the usual garbage of credit, insurance, Dr. Oz treatments, and printer ink. I often wonder how these folks get my email since I'm not visiting singles' sites, insurance sites, or ink sites. It would be amusing if it really wasn't so sad...I haven't gotten any from the contests lately...for awhile I was getting bombarded with I was a winner. I don't enter many contests so I don't think I'll fall for any of that.

Supper will be sloppy chicks. I have two after school/evening meetings this week, so I had to think what I could fix that DH could heat up for himself and I could take and heat up at work for my menu. The pork roast and the soup will make up two meals for us so the menu looks sparse:

Scrambled eggs, sausage, grits, toast, fruit salad
Sloppy chicks
Pork tenderloin roast with carrots, onions, celery, and mushrooms and baked sweet potatoes and roasted potatoes
Chicken and rice soup

Penny Pinching Purchases

February 16th, 2015 at 08:09 pm

We had new grocery open up and I feel like we are reaping the benefits. It is a second store for one group and the coupons have really started coming out. They had a coupon of a box of Creamette spaghetti for 59 cents with the coupon, limit of 2. I didn't need spaghetti, but we bought them and they are stored in the freezer for when we do.

Since this company has had a lot of sales and such, the other large grocery company has stepped up with sales and coupons. I am no longer loyal to one store. I have decided I am loyal to us and saving us money. This store sent me coupons for some free items based on what I've bought in the past as well as cents off coupons for things. Between their savings and Aldi, we have spent less than $60 on groceries for this week. I really like this penny pinching!

Catching Up

February 16th, 2015 at 01:19 am

It's Sunday again. This week was one of lots of stress and lots of work and...well, it seemed to go on forever at some points and sped by at others. I was glad when Friday night came, but I was so exhausted, I could barely think. DH hit Aldi and we picked up a few things at a local grocery. This store had sent some coupons and we got some good deals on things we usually buy so no complaints here.

Yesterday we ran errands and hit thrift shops. We did eat dinner out at a nice restaurant for Valentine's Day.Both food and service were great, so it was quite the treat.

After church today it was house cleaning, laundry, and cooking. I tried a recipe for snickerdoodle bread someone posted on Facebook. I didn't have the cinnamon chips, but made it like the recipe for everything else. DH loves snickerdoodles and he really liked the bread. It was a nice treat for him. I baked two loaves of white bread. I will be sharing my bread bounty with a friend. A couple of weeks ago she made two apple pies and gave us one so I'd like to do something back for her.

My little group of gals has grown to be a little larger group of gals who are bringing their lunches on Thursdays and we are talking about finances. Last week, as a lark, I emailed them an assignment to list 5 things they do personally to save money. They laughed and kidded me about the "homework." So, while we ate, we shared our five things. We made a master list and put it on Google docs so everyone could add if they wished and we had a nice time. One of the other ladies is going to come up with an assignment for this week. We decided to trade off so no one feels like anyone is really in charge. We started a Facebook page for our group so we can share articles so we don't fill up our email boxes.

Last Thursday I found a dime in the parking lot of one of the buildings I frequent. I posted about it and said it put me up to 17 cents. I got a lot of ribbing about it, all good natured, and today at church, one of our friends dropped a penny on the floor and picked it up and said I had found it. He proceeded to put a penny in the pew where we sit and gave me one more before he left just laughing. I call him my penny angel and I'm now up to 20 cents. Hey, it all adds up.

This is going to be a weird week as far as meals. A couple of weeks ago I made a huge batch of soup and froze half of it for this week. I have parent-teacher conferences Tuesday and Thursday nights from 4-7 so I will take some soup with me to heat up at school and DH can heat some up for himself on Tuesday. I plan on making mini quiches so we can do the same thing on Thursday.

My menu plan for this week:

Scrambled eggs, sausage, grits, toast, fruit
Chili
Pork loin roast with carrots, onions, mushrooms, and celery, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, bread
Vegetable soup
Leftover pork roast and I'll probably roast some potatoes
Mini quiches

It's cold here, but we might get up to an inch or so of snow tonight into tomorrow. I am not going to complain too loudly. Last winter was horrendous with the frigid temps and all the snow, and even that isn't as bad as what New England is experiencing. Got to count our blessings when we can!


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