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        )

)
I was an educator by day, but remain a frugalista and foodie by night.Frugal Foodie
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Is Cash King? Will we be a cashless society soon?

January 26th, 2020 at 08:40 pm

A couple of days ago NBC reporter had a story on whether we would be a cashless society. He really didn't answer the question, but talked about his experiment where he kept all his receipts after using his charge card for a week, and then all the receipts for using cash. It wasn't really a fair experiment in my book because he admitted he had to keep getting cash and that he had to replace a hard drive so that really drove his spending up. I think he should redo it and just see what he spends if he only has cash and when he runs out, he can't head to the ATM. He did admit that he was a mess as far as money so maybe there was some value in his cash v. plastic trial.

I know I blogged about counting pennies and taking them in to put in our vacation fund. Fortunately our credit union lets us bring change in and doesn't charge us. I did take some wheat pennies into a coin shop. I knew they weren't worth much, but figured anything over the penny was better than nothing. I realized a dime for my troubles, but it was an errand that didn't cost me anything but a few extra steps since I was already near the coin shop. The young man who waited on me said that wheat pennies aren't collected very much anymore and most people just melt them down for the copper.

Most of my friends rarely carry cash. They bring out that credit card for everything. And those friends are the ones who complain about being short of money. Two of my friends use cash for most things. That is not to say they don't use credit cards or pay with checks, but for some of the mundane things, they use cash. DH almost always pays cash. I had read some articles years ago that said if people saw the cash they were spending, they would be more mindful.

A couple of years ago a friend who never carries cash had an issue with his debit card. It is one of those that is both a debit and credit card. Something happened that made the bank lock down the card and it was over the weekend and he could not get a hold of anyone. He had no cash at home. No checks. And he and his spouse do not keep food in the house -- they shop before most meals unless they go out. He said he never thought what it would be like not to be able to buy gas, buy groceries, or even a cup of coffee. When he got in to the bank early Monday morning, the bank manager said it would take a couple of days to figure out what was going on and unlock the accounts and he suggested from now on my friend should keep some cash at home in case there is another problem.

So, if we do become a cashless society, what happens when there are glitches. With all the technology problems, hackers, etc, I can see this happening if we depend on cards, Apple pay, or whatever else is out there.

Cheap Eats

January 22nd, 2020 at 09:11 pm

Do you ever sit and figure out how much your meal cost you? I don't do it by person since it is just the two of us, but I often estimate how much we spent on what we consumed as we sit down to eat.

Last night, for example, was fairly reasonable. It was the leftover pork loin roast, leftover green beans, and I had two sweet potatoes I baked, and then cottage cheese, sliced cherry tomatoes, and fruit salad. I always try to divide stuff by the meals, not taking the whole initial cost of the pork loin roast for the first meal. I think it cost us around $7, and that is counting the fact I brewed ice tea too. That is for the two of us. Not $7 each.

Of course some meals are more expensive. I fixed wings the other night and I think the package of wings was a little under $7 and that was before I made a coating for them or added other things to go with. But still, eating at home is far cheaper than eating out, at least I think it is.

I have a friend who brags about finding cheap meals and when he talks about them, he's going to fast food. I guess if you eat off the dollar menu or whatever they have, it might be cheaper, but I can't imagine it being cheaper since most of the stuff is pretty small. Not to mention, there's a reason these items are cheaper, many are made with flavorings and preservatives. He's always talking about all his health issues and as much as I would like to say perhaps a better diet would help, I don't. I guess I'm a chicken.

He made some comments about all my canning. Granted, I could probably find canned green beans cheaper than buying fresh green beans and canning them myself, but I hope to keep canning them to get away from the salt and preservatives. DH had a good tomato crop this year and I made a lot of spaghetti sauce as well as canning some of the tomatoes. I have used quite a bit of the stuff I've canned already. This friend said he couldn't believe we would use even half of it before the next summer. There's something pretty exciting to opening the cabinet and see the jars lined up, ready to be used.

Tonight we are having pork chops. Our Kroger has a little deli counter like where you can choose the meat you want. I buy one thick boneless pork chop and then slice it in half and that makes enough of a meal for both of us. I find it more reasonable than buying the package of pork chops. Plus, it is probably healthier for us to eat less meat. I think our meal tonight will run around $7 again. I don't think that is too bad. Lunch was around $10 today. I buy a special tea to make that although it has a good, sweet flavor, it doesn't have any sugar or sweetener in it. Still far cheaper than eating out and we had plenty to eat -- soup, sandwich, applesauce, and tea.

So, what do you think -- do you do the cheap eats at home or find cheap eats elsewhere?

Are there new and improved ways to save money?

January 19th, 2020 at 08:34 pm

Every so often, I try to find different ways to save money. Not that I'm an expert, but after awhile, so many articles seem to say the same thing over and over. I do many of them. There are a couple I won't. One is we don't plan to give up cable. My husband doesn't drink, smoke, golf, gamble, or do any of these things that cost lots of money. He enjoys television and the shows that are on cable. I figure that is is entertainment and we can afford it. We rarely if ever go to a movie or sports event. So, we aren't spending money on those things.

But getting back to my original thought, every so often I type into Pinterest and Google and read the articles. I do a lot of the things.

So, is saving money just doing the same things? Yeah, I know, it is a rhetorical question. For everyone it is a different thing on how they save. I'm certainly not going to do some of the extreme things that were on shows a couple of years back.

So, what do you think? Is there really nothing new about finding ways to save money?

$7.16

January 16th, 2020 at 09:57 pm

Drum roll please... that's the big total of the pennies I just counted. We will be taking them to the credit union at some point and stashing them in the vacation fund.

On its own, it wouldn't take us very far, but little drips and drabs all add up. I did find three wheat pennies in the total and I looked them up. They might be worth a little more than face value and you can bet I'll be walking over to the pawn shop when we go someplace near it for something else and see what they give me. I won't be making a separate trip, but hey, even if they give us 15 cents for each one, that's a pretty decent return. I looked them up on line and they said 15 cents to $4. I figure the $4 is for mint condition. Believe me, they are not mint condition. This is not included in the total.

I remember reading stories where people would save their change for years and then make a big purchase. I remember locally one guy bought his new pick up truck with quarters...he had them saved in buckets at home. Now days, I'd be afraid to keep that kind of money at home sitting out. People tend to think it is OK to break in and steal stuff, although lugging around buckets of quarters wouldn't be easy. Perhaps that's a deterrent.

I realize most of society prefers using credit cards and their phones for purchasing stuff. I bought a prescription today and my copay was $6.01. I paid cash simply because I didn't want to put that on my credit card. Guess I'm old fashioned.

As I was sitting there putting the pennies in stacks of ten, I thought most kids won't have the pleasure of counting out pennies, estimating how much they have before, and realizing what they counted. This amount isn't going to make or break us, but it is just a simple way to save a few bucks here and there and then put it in a designated account.

We are fortunate to have a credit union that accepts coins. We don't have to roll them, just bring them in. I guess I'm weird because I want an idea of how much we have.

After all, Ben Franklin would be proud of us.

Busy Week

January 12th, 2020 at 08:36 pm

It's been a busy week, but not horrific. We celebrated my birthday last Sunday and had a wonderful dinner in a town about an hour away. It's always a challenge because we often get horrible weather around my birthday, but things were mild. It was nice and the food was delicious.

We had a good server. We think she was a college student. She was efficient, but not overly friendly. Since we are basically older folks, I wonder if most servers see us as those folks who eat early and want a bargain and are bad tippers. DH always leaves a generous tip, especially if we get good service. We know they are struggling and need good tips since most restaurants do not pay minimum wage or more. We chuckled on our way out as she was shocked when she saw the money (DH pays cash) and that he said keep the change and it was far more than she expected. We know one couple that no matter what the bill, they leave around two or three dollars. Most of the time, that isn't even 15% and they are the kind that want special treatment and often try to wheedle a free cup of coffee or dessert.

We had our knitting group meet this week. We are up to 272 hats already. We had a lady from another church come and give us a bunch of yarn that her church can't use. Her church makes lap afghans and they use just regular yarn, not the sports yarn, or thick yarn, or any of the fancy yarns. She also brought a bunch of dish cloth cotton yarn. I used a lot of that to make dish cloths to donate to one of the food pantries to put in their Christmas baskets last year. Another lady saw the dish cloth yarn and said she would help me make dish cloths too so that's a good thing.

Last night we met with two other couples for supper. We have been taking turns hosting. The hosts provide the main dish and one or two other things and then we all bring a couple of dishes. We feasted on roast beef, potatoes, carrots, green beans, homemade French bread, cherry pie, and apple cake. We had a delightful time until it was time to leave. It has iced and then snowed an inch over it. Driving home was not a pleasure, but we did get home and were grateful for our safety.

A couple of weeks ago I fixed a beef roast (one of the buy one get one free offers Kroger had awhile back) and had roast and broth left over. I made a large pot of vegetable soup. DH asked me if I was planning on feeding an Army. I said no, but I wanted to use up the roast and broth and the carrots, plus then I had other vegetables in the fridge that needed to be used up and so it took off from there. We had two meals from the soup and I froze the rest. Meal #3 is tonight -- I have it heating up in a Crockpot. There's still a package in the freezer for meal #4.

Recently I was doing some of my amateur genealogy and ran across a person's email on the findagrave site for a person who may or may not be a distant relative. We have since been corresponding back and forth and sharing what we have learned. She lives in Nebraska and is about my age. It's pretty cool overall and we are distantly related. That was like getting a present for me. I love doing research and when I find something like that, it just thrills me.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Birthday Musings and Benefits

January 5th, 2020 at 07:58 pm

Today is my birthday. I"m 59. I'm sitting here thinking I had no idea what my life would turn out to be and how incredibly blessed I am.

DH is going to treat me to a supper tonight at a restaurant we rarely frequent. I'm looking forward to it. Yesterday we went shopping. Clothes shopping is not something I enjoy, but did find a few things that fit that I liked. That was my birthday.

I don't go into detail about our investments and such, but growing up, we didn't have much. My folks worked hard, but most of the jobs didn't pay squat. When I started out, I worked two or three jobs to make ends meet until I could resort to one. My dad constantly drilled into me, get an education and if someone offers to teach you something, learn it gladly. All these things paid off for me. I look at some of the people I went to high school with and they had better opportunities and many didn't take advantage of them. I don't want that to sound like a snob, because I don't mean for it to be that way. Just that some had parents who would have paid for them to go to college and they didn't, and now complain they don't make enough money or that life is unfair. Anyway, we are comfortable. I can basically buy whatever I want and as I grow older, there isn't really a whole lot I honestly want because I have so much now.

One of my friends gave me water color pencils and a book to journal and color in as I read the Psalms daily. Neither of these things I would have purchased for myself, but I'm sitting here thinking, what a thoughtful gift and I'm going to enjoy using these items.

Amber was talking about her credit cash back and I recently had $150 credit cash back on my credit card. I was waiting to get it up to a decent amount and then applied it to the bill. I'm getting ready to use some Ibotta credit at Kohls to buy some new sheets to replace some that have worn out. I was thinking about how old these sheets were and I know one set has to be at least 10 years old. I think we got our money's worth out of them. The other set I'm not sure and I've mended them a couple of times, but the stuff keeps ripping out. I'm using one of the sheets as a cover for DH's chair when he comes in all dirty and sweaty from working in the yard so he can sit and rest before going back out. There' something exciting about cashing in these items that are found money. Like CB I pay off our credit cards each month so we don't owe any interest. I prefer making money instead of giving it to credit card companies.

Having read LivingAlmostLarge's entry about Saving Advice folks being friends as we share our ups and downs, how exactly correct that is. I feel like I have shared many things with so many of you. What a blessing.

Well, I've probably written more than I should, so I think you'll find me coloring!

2019 into 2020

December 31st, 2019 at 09:49 pm

Sitting here reflecting a little.

Twenty years ago there was such fear because of the Y2K. Looking back on it, we were told to be fearful since the changing of the year could damage computers, cause power outages, etc. Glad none of that came about.

2019 was a good year overall. Some ups and downs, but overall, very blessed.

Glad to see the market closed up today, the last day of 2019. I'm hoping our investments did well this month. Last year this time we lost money the last few months of 2019.

It's been great that DH's cataract surgeries were both a success. Fortunately neither of us had any big problems health wise.

I think I've spent more money this year than last, but not because I was being crazy and spendy. Certain things needed to be fixed or replaced. But, it is wonderful that we had the money to do so.

We spent some time going through some things and we made our last donation to the thrift shop we donate to. I had received some things that were brand new, but I knew I would use them. Perhaps someone else can get some good out of them. I should get rid of more stuff, but sometimes it is difficult to let go. I need to work on that.

We plan to meet a friend and eat out tonight and be home early. We hope 2020 is a happy year for everyone and a prosperous one as well.

Retirement Rant

December 22nd, 2019 at 07:57 pm

First of all, as you probably are aware, I try not to be political in my posts. And although this will sort of start out that way, please understand, I am not trying to be.

I'm tired of some of the folks on my Facebook friends list complaining that those rich people love Donald Trump because their 401Ks are doing well. Then go on to say those rich people don't understand the working people. This week, I had had enough.

This is not a pro Trump or even an against Trump thought. I'm just glad the market has shown some improvement and my retirement accounts are showing some gains. But what got me is this latest person was basically saying I'm rich because I have retirement accounts. I finally commented that not everyone who has retirement accounts is rich, and those people who have them made sacrifices through their working careers to put money aside. Since I worked in education, there were no matching funds for my 403b. My Roth is funded by money made by me.

So, I thought for awhile. We went to high school together. I chose to attend college. I worked to put myself through school. Neither of my parents finished high school, so going to college was a big deal. Between scholarships, grants, and working, I paid for college. When I graduated, I worked various jobs, sometimes two jobs, to make ends meet until I could get hired as a full time teacher. When I was hired full time, I opened a 403b and let me tell you, at $15,000 a year, paying $100 a month into that 403b wasn't always easy. As I made more money, I increased that. I started a very small IRA on my own. And when I could, opened a Roth IRA a number of years ago. I'm not rich. DH worked at the library and library salaries are notoriously low and he was not a librarian. I earned my master's degree and then went on to get 32 hours beyond my master's to get the step increases that come with that. No school loans. We tightened our belts so I could get this course work in.

DH is older than I am so the goal was to get the house paid off before he retired. We were paying extra each month so our mortgage was decreasing. When we had a family member die and there was a small inheritance, we used it to pay off the house, the car, and to buy the year and a half I subbed for my retirement. When I subbed, the state didn't take out money for the teacher pension, so I had to pay for it to help my pension. Other than the small inheritance, everything else was earned. I know a friend of ours when he heard we had a small inheritance told us he would go on a fancy trip and buy lots of stuff. We said no, we wanted to pay stuff off.

When we no longer had a mortgage payment, we started putting money away. As we had more savings, we then could look into investing. I still shop frugally. I use coupons, buy loss leaders, make a lot of things from scratch. Am I rich? Probably not. Am I comfortable. Yes, happily so.

I get tired of people who could have done something more trying to make me feel guilty because I have retirement accounts and my house is paid off. I learned a lot of lessons watching my parents. They struggled and it wasn't because they were not lazy or felt entitled. They just never had jobs that paid much. My dad kept drilling into me as a young person I needed to get an education and improve my quality of living.

The specific person I am writing about had many more opportunities than I. Both parents were college educated. I'm sure they would have helped put her through college. She chose to be the party gal and live that sort of life. Not everyone needs to go to college to make a great salary. I'm not saying that. But whatever one's career, they need to keep learning and be diligent as an employee and work to help themselves when it comes to saving money and helping themselves.

I feel like I can safely rant here because I think we are kindred spirits when it comes to bettering our financial lives. I have learned so many things reading your blogs and the forums.

Odds and ends and Snickerdoodle Bread

December 17th, 2019 at 08:09 pm

I'm happy to report that DH caught a kid who was shoveling the driveway for his girlfriend's parents and asked him if he would shovel ours. He said yes and wanted to refuse payment. DH said no, you work, you get paid. What a relief.

Just finished cleaning house. I know I'm probably anal, but I have a schedule of sorts to clean and it helps me keep on top of stuff. I have an allergy to dust so that means I need to keep things pretty clean. I'm not thrilled with the process of cleaning, but sure like it when I'm done. We received a little more snow last night, but I could clean it off today. I also dug out around the mailbox since it seemed like it was pretty deep. Our mailbox is near the road.

I was going through papers and found one of those memorial book marks for a great uncle that had his obituary. Since I've been doing some genealogy, I was thrilled with finding it. I was doing some research yesterday afterwards and may have located a very distant relative in Colorado. We promised to email after Christmas and see what we can come up with. That's pretty exciting for me!

I just pulled 5 mini loaves of Snickerdoodle bread out of the oven. I think this is the last of the baking for gifts. I was gob smacked last week at Aldi -- they were totally out of white sugar. I was not out, but I try to keep a bag in reserve. Guess lots of people were baking for the holidays. Anyway, I'm going to post the recipe for Snickerdoodle bread. It calls for cinnamon chips and none of our stores locally have them so I have to buy them at an Amish bulk food store in a small town about 30 minutes away.

Snickerdoodle bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
1 package of cinnamon chips

topping: 3 Tablespoons of sugar
3 Tablespoons of cinnamon

Cream butter, sugar, salt, and cinnamon until fluffy. Add vanilla and sour cream and and mix well. Mix flour and baking powder in. Add cinnamon chips and stir in batter. Spoon batter into buttered loaf pans until 2/3 full. Mix the topping mix and sprinkle over the batter. Bake until toothpick comes our clean. For a mini loaf pan, between 35-40 minutes. For a larger loaf man, closer to 50-60 minutes.