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Archive for December, 2019

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.

It's been awhile

December 15th, 2019 at 09:54 pm

I haven't blogged too much lately. I guess I haven't had much to share. I've tried to keep up with reading the blogs.

Like many of you have posted, my Christmas shopping is finished. In fact, I have purchased some craft kits to start on things for next Christmas. I gave a lot of canned items away as well. My Christmas cards have been sent. I do have a little more baking to do, but not a great amount. I always give some sweet breads to some of DH's former coworkers and I'd like to do that this week. For my birthday last January, a friend gave me some holiday ceramic loaf pans because she knows I like to do that.

We had our Christmas bazaar at my church last weekend. I baked lots of cookies and some sweet breads for it as well as made a few things to donate to sell. This one of two fundraisers for our ladies' guild and after expenses, profits are used for missions both locally and worldwide. I do the publicity and I think I have figured out the best ways to get free PR.

On the financial front, we seem to be doing OK. We have a Christmas Club account that we put money in each month and then in November, draw it out and use it for Christmas. So, Christmas is paid for and we won't owe. I was glad to see our investments showed an improvement for the month of November. Like Disney Steve wrote when he said theirs reached over a million, it doesn't change anything. Same with us. We continue our frugal ways. We had a CD come due and our financial guy called us and wanted to know if we wanted some of the money to spend and I said that I knew he had to ask us, but no, what did we need? He laughed and said he wished more of his clients were like us. He doesn't get rich off of us, but I'm sure every little bit helps. He finds better interest rates than what we can get around here and at this point, we aren't ready to do online investing. We prefer brick and mortar banks.

Just about every Friday we hit the thrift stores. We don't usually buy a lot. I have a couple of people who have given me wish lists of things to look for and that's something we do. Well, just want to report I was the big spender last Friday. My total was $1.62 and tax beating DH's total of 40 cents.

It has started snowing and the weather forecast is calling for 4-7 inches. I'm not thrilled. I hate shoveling snow and in a subdivision full of kids, apparently none of them want to make any extra money. We keep some cash on hand just in case we would find someone to shovel when it gets deep.

Hope you all have a wonderful full week before Christmas.

Catching Up

December 1st, 2019 at 10:44 pm

Not much to report overall. DH and I went on two day bus trips this week. Not exactly great planning on the travel agency's part, but they were things we wanted to do.

The first was to go to Joliet to the Jacob Henry Mansion. It is a Victorian home that has been kept up and there was a luncheon complete with Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln visiting. After a delightful meal (usually these aren't all that great, but this one was) the Lincolns talked about how Christmas was celebrated during Victorian times, especially in the White House during 1861 - 1864. Then a Civil War General and his wife talked about Christmas music during that time. Following that meal and program, we walked across the lawn to an old church for a holiday pipe organ concert. The pipe organ was original and was lovely as was the stained glass windows. It was a nice day get away and other than spending what the trip cost, we spent nothing else. It was just an experience.

Yesterday we took a bus trip to the Galleria Mall in St. Louis. We honestly didn't need to shop for anything, but just wanted the chance to get to someplace else for a little while. We had a nice lunch and walked around the mall admiring the decorations. I noticed that leopard print is in this year for both men and women. Just in case you were interested. We didn't buy any. Lots of dresses with sequins as well as men's sports coats with sequins. We didn't buy any of that either. Good thing the mall didn't depend on our spending. Our local mall is dying a slow, painful death, so it was nice to see that every store front at the Galleria was occupied. It was just nice to do something different without spending a whole lot of money.

Our Thanksgiving was marvelous. Another couple joined us and we had a great time visiting. I made extra stuff so I could send plenty of turkey and other sides home with them. We have had 2 meals off the leftovers and tonight is another. By then we should be about done with the leftovers. I don't mind leftovers and it sure makes fixing a meal a lot easier since it is already cooked.

I have been working on our Christmas cards. Most of the people I send cards to don't do social media so the cards take awhile. I about gasped when I counted them...51. That's a lot of postage. Egad. Oh, well, It's a nice way to catch up with some folks.

My shopping is finished. I do have some baking to do for our church bazaar which is next Saturday, but I want to wait until closer to the date so the cookies and baked goods are fresh.

We didn't participate in the Black Friday shopping. I have found it is a perfect day to grocery shop since people are at the other stores rustling up bargains. I guess I've gotten to the point in my life where there really isn't anything I want to get up early for or get out on Thursday night to buy. I must be getting old.

Hope you all have a terrific holiday and weekend.