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Weather, Crafting, and Organization

February 2nd, 2019 at 12:50 pm

What an interesting week!

Monday I went to Kroger to pick up my prescription. It is the one medicine my insurance doesn't cover and they have the cheapest price. I have a coupon from the manufacturer for money off, but still have to pay over $250 for it. I had to wait a bit so I decided to pick up a couple of things while I waited and holy cow, did things get crazy. I bought my items and took them to the car and came back and in that short bit of time, the parking lot went from calm to crazy. People were circling looking for places. I went back in to get my prescription and while I waited, there were people who would get a card and almost run, throwing things in the cart. Really? Nothing was happening yet weather wise. The Polar Vortex wasn't even on our doorstep yet! Egad!

DH and I did a few errands on Tuesday and came home and stayed there until Thursday. Tuesday night the weather got colder and Wednesday wa the extreme below zero wind chills. Fortunately we did not lose power or have pipes freeze. We were happy to be home and safe and felt sorry for those who had to get out in it.

I've been looming and crocheting trying to use up yarn that I have purchased for the hats and scarves I'm making. DH and I cleaned house on Wednesday so that kept us busy and gave us some exercise too. DH normally goes to the mall to walk, but he didn't want to get out with it being so cold. So, not the same exercise, but better than sitting around.

We have been enjoying our Netflix subscription. I turned to DH last night and said who would have thought 20 years ago we would "stream" movies in our house. I remember thinking the VCR and tapes was pretty darn cool years ago and now you just sit home and the movies come to you.

We did spend some money today. We took our cars to the place where you wash them yourself. We did both cars to get the salt and grime off until the next go round. We also went to a flea market and I found some things to use as Christmas gifts and they were either 50% or 75% off. Last year I collected lots of little items and wrapped them up individually and gave them to a friend so she had 25 gifts to unwrap from December 1st to the 25th. She really liked it so I wanted to do it again this year. I don't want to give her junk just to give her a gift, but things she might use. She likes Curirier and Ives stuff and I found two trivets that were still in the containers. That will be two gifts and she can use them on her table for hot stuff. I found a box of Christmas mugs like new and it was 75% off.

I'm still doing the Ibotta thing and it is slow going, but hey, it is free money. I guess doing most of our grocery shopping at Aldi keeps me from cashing in a lot, but we also don't buy a lot of the things they give you cash for.

We had our weekly date night last night. We had gone to the bank and DH doesn't carry money in his wallet, but all those plastic cards like his license and loyalty cards. I saw he had a Cracker Barrel gift card and I suggested he use that when we ate out. He said he didn't think there was much money on it and I said well, whatever it is, it isn't helping him by staying in his wallet and even if it is 50 cents, that 50 cents. We went there and ate and when he ran it through, there was $4.70 on it. For a $22 meal, that was $4.70 he didn't have to spend out of his pocket.

The other day we were watching one of those daily programs where they have snippets of different things to improve your life and this one gal was talking about organizing your pantry. I always perk up when those things come on because my pantry is overcrowded and I clean it out and try to organize it, but it never looks wonderful. Anyway, this gal was talking about getting these containers and doing this and that and when she showed the pantry, there were like 4 or 5 things on a shelf. Really? Yeah, it looked tidy, but not a whole lot of cooking going on there. That's how she wanted it to look. I'm going to say it out loud, my pantry will not be looking like that.

I saw an article claiming January was the best the DOW had since 1987. I'm not really sure of that, but guess we will see when we get our financial statement.

Busy, busy

March 18th, 2018 at 02:00 pm

It's been a busy week.

It's also been a tough week. My asthma has really kicked up and I'm having issues breathing so I'm having to do breathing treatments. It makes me tired having to struggle and coughing so much. But I know it will eventually get better.

I did an art project with the fifth graders I volunteer with this week. We used some fancy yarn that was leftovers from donation yarn that no one could use at church. We made baskets by weaving it in and out of plastic drinking cups I had cut for that purpose. Some of the kids really did a fabulous job. Some decided it was too much work and quit. I had taken in a Gullah basket to show them before I did the project. I spent quite a bit of time getting the cups ready as well as making sure I had enough materials. I hate to sound negative, but I wasn't too shocked that so many kids decided it was too much work to try and do this project. I think it took most of them that finished it about 15 minutes to complete it.

We did get our names put on the list for a new driveway. We have to wait a bit since there are five people ahead of us. I dread the construction and parking in the street, but will be glad to have a smooth, new driveway. We saved almost $8K for it just in case, but the bid came in at $5500. So, we will have money left over to put on the next project we will be saving for. As nice as it is to own our home, there's always something to fix or replace isn't there? Our driveway is original with the house which was built in 1979 so I guess the fact it has lasted this long isn't something to sneeze at. We have a hill so I guess it is a tricky pour.

We finally got our last group of tax papers so our taxes are done! Amen!

I finished the book "Confessions of a Shopaholic" by Sophie Kinsella. I know it is fiction, but I think the author probably nailed the rationalization of why people spend foolishly.

Last night we went to a nearby small town and had dinner at an Amish home. Our friends are friends with this couple and the Amish couple do this every so often to make money. She served it buffet style. And it was amazing. Not good if you are watching calories, but yowza! Fried chicken, meatloaf, pulled pork, lasagna, dressing, chicken and noodles, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, green salad, pickled beets, two types of pickles, cottage cheese, homemade rolls with butter and/or homemade apple butter. And pie. Four different kinds of freshly baked pie. Oh, my! There was a large group besides us and after they all left, she handed my friends and us a container and said take some home! So we brought a few things home for another meal. I'll have to supplement a little bit, but still, that was a great deal. Everything was homemade. What a treat! Not something I'd want to do often though.

I still have some ironing I want to do today after my breathing treatment and before supper. I haven't felt like doing a whole lot, but have been pushing myself to try and get some things accomplished or otherwise when I do get over this, I will be so overwhelmed.

Hope everyone has a good week.



Awash in papers

March 4th, 2018 at 12:11 pm

My desk looks like it is awash in papers. Egad, I'm getting overwhelmed!

Sunday afternoons are usually bill paying time for the week. So, I have a few things made out and ready to mail. Some other things I paid online.

I have been working on publicity for my church for Holy Week and Easter as well as a rummage sale coming up in June. I am not a procrastinator so I feel better when I have stuff lined up, even if it isn't submitted yet.

Pretty soon I'm taking out the accordion file so I can start organizing tax papers. We don't receive some of our documents until the middle of March. I like to have things organized so when we do get them, we can take them to our tax preparer and get them done quickly. I'm curious how our taxes will look this year since this is the first full year I've been retired. We talked to our tax guy last year and he made some suggestions on what we could do, so hopefully we did what we needed to do so we don't owe a lot.

I have been decluttering a little at a time. We took in a box of really good stuff to church for the rummage sale. Our ladies aren't procrastinators either and have been asking for stuff already so they can get it marked ahead of time. This was the first year they had a "do not donate" list. Unfortunately there are always some people who want to "donate" things that really aren't good stuff, but just a way for them to get rid of junk and not have to deal with it. I checked, none of my donated stuff is on the do not donate list. I crocheted 3 towels for the rummage sale and I pinned the washing instructions from the yarn covers on them so the new owners will know how to take care of them.

Well, back to the papers. Hopefully I will get things straighten up so it doesn't look like a file cabinet exploded.

A State Storyteller for Education

January 31st, 2018 at 06:59 am

There are times when truth is truly stranger than fiction. Today's article in the paper proved that. Illinois is hiring a state storyteller to tell the good things going on in education to the tune of $47K.

Illinois has big financial woes. Many of our larger city school districts are low performing. Most school districts that depend on local taxes are hurting big time. Starting salary in my city for a teacher is $39K. Most young teachers can't afford that because they owe so much in loans. Or if they take the much needed job, they live at poverty level if they have a family. Yet, our state is going to hire a storyteller. I'm wondering if this storyteller is going to tell fictional stories because the truth is pretty scary!

In other "factual" news, I almost have the room straightened up where we had the carpeting stretched. The guy showed up, on time, and after he finished, he said the job was more than he anticipated and that he had to restretch the whole room. I asked if he was going to raise the estimate and he said no, that wouldn't be fair to me. He also fixed a closet door in another bedroom because I asked him to show me how the bifold doors worked. He showed me, fixed it. So, I gave him $25 more than he said and he thanked me profusely.

Today I volunteer at school. I am working with some fifth graders on writing. It is sad how poorly they write and spell. A couple of them give me attitude claiming I don't know how to write and I just laugh as I work on their papers with them and correct the many grammatical and spelling errors. One of them said I didn't know what the teacher wanted and i finally told him that I have known the teacher longer than he has been alive, and I was the one who used to demonstrate in this teacher's class the writing model.

Our local paper is raising their rates yet again. This is the second time in a year. We seem to get less for more money and the mistakes continue to escalate. DH loves getting the paper and we can afford it, but it irks me we have to pay more and the quality isn't there.

Sad Observation

October 27th, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Last week a weekly local paper in their legal notices listed all the delinquent property taxes in real estate for the year of 2016. I should have kept the paper and tallied up how much the county is owed by these folks. It's no wonder we have problems paying our bills in the county. I always read through it to make sure our names are not in it, in case we weren't credited with our tax bill payment or forgot something. Sadly, I saw names of people I knew. Two couples seem to have their names in it each year. I wonder if they pay the penalty and pay them off or if they are eventually going to have their home sold or auctioned off for taxes.

One couple that I know was listed and it just makes me sad. Their taxes weren't hugely expensive. I don't know the wife, just of her, but I know the mister and he works six days a week. He's 62 years old and he looks twenty years older. He works as a butcher in a chain grocery store -- he has for over 38 years that I know of. We were shopping and I noticed him going through the clearance rack getting some bread, cereal, and some other item, all incredibly marked down for his lunch. I wonder if they are living hand to mouth. It's not anything I would ask. I know he drives an older car so it isn't like he's blowing money on fast automobiles. I also wonder why he doesn't pack a lunch instead of buying something each day unless the store frowns on them bringing lunches.

I sort of wonder what happened in his life. I was in high school when I met him; I was working for Coca-Cola working at grocery stores giving out samples in the late 1970s. He was a butcher then and single, and seemingly doing well. Then our lives separated because I went to college and he was moved to a different store. Then about three years ago he was transferred to the store we frequent and we recognized each other and greeted each other.

I know I'm blessed. I have a wonderful husband and we usually see eye to eye on expenses. We both have pensions and we have money saved. Our home is paid off. And we are enjoying retirement. My friend asked me how I could retire before he did -- he's 8 years old than I. I said I planned for retirement and left it at that. I sort of wonder if that is why they are having problems. I think a big part of life's troubles is due to lack of planning. I realize there are things that happen in people's lives they can't control, but for so many, they grumble about not being able to retire because there was no forethought.

Anyway, it really kind of made me sad thinking of my friend. I hope they get the taxes paid on their home. I don't know them well enough to even inquire about finances. Just someone from my past and my observation.

Potpourri

October 17th, 2017 at 08:55 am

I was hoping to post that yesterday was a no spend day, but then I remembered I went to the chiropractor and paid my copay of $20. Oh, well. It was well worth it for the adjustment.

When we were going to the thrift shops Friday I did find .11 in the parking lot of one of them. I added it to the coin jar.

DH picked a bunch of peppers over the weekend. I'm slowly using them. When the chiropractor asked if the garden is still going, I said yes and told him about the peppers. He said he was jealous because they are over $1 each at the grocery. I'm sure a freeze will be coming soon, but we are still getting tomatoes.

DH has finally agreed that is OK to have meatless meals once in awhile. It not only saves money on groceries, it also is healthier for us. We rarely eat red meat any more, but I think eating mostly vegetables and fruits is far better. I am going to make spaghetti sauce this afternoon using peppers, onions, and mushrooms, and then I grate Parmesan cheese on top of the spaghetti and sauce on our plates.

I wrote a tough email to a friend. She retired years before me and ever since she retired, she has gotten herself involved into caring for a sick person. First it was her mother-in-law. Then a neighbor. Then her husband, and now an aunt on her husband's side. Part of it is she is way too nice, but part of it is she takes over and then other family members don't step up and she then is upset when people don't help. I can see doing it all for the spouse, but now she is living an hour and ten minutes away from home, and has no free time. She is not happy, but doesn't want to hear she is being taken advantage of. Yet I am not alone in thinking this. Her brother and sister have both told her that and she says she believes when it comes her time to need care, someone will make care of her since she has. Knowing what I know about some of her family, I don't think that is going to be the case. Part of my email pointed out all the times she didn't do stuff when she wasn't doing care taking. Her son and his girlfriend had her doing something for them every day even though it was inconvenient. Her church had her babysitting for church services and although we all appreciate loyal folks, she would give up something fun because she had to babysit. Funny how these folks found replacements now that she isn't available. I'm not saying she should have just left them in a lurch every time, but if something special comes up, cancel and go have a little fun. Right now she is miserable because she has no television, no radio, and she told me her data plan on her phone is at 94% so she can't even get news or email because she doesn't want to go over. She is a better person than I am.

I need to call the furnace folks and have them do the annual check for furnace and air conditioning. That won't be cheap, but I learned the hard way years and years ago. I didn't call and we had a problem and of course it was on a weekend. The service call for the annual check is far more reasonable.

Big Houses

September 17th, 2017 at 01:25 pm

Every week our newspaper prints the real estate transfers that happened in our county. I am always surprised to see some of the prices of the houses and wonder who has the money to buy such expensive houses and maintain them.

I know there are some wealthy folks out there. It is just here in our Central Illinois area, we are still struggling with unemployment and underemployment. According to realtor.com the median home selling price is between $77,000 and $85,000. Yet, so many are selling for over $200K. And some of the folks buying them are people I know who I didn't realize had that kind of money. I realize that many of you live where moderately sized houses go for far more. I'm just talking about prices in my area.

Our home is valued at about $130,000. which is pretty decent...it isn't huge, around 1500 square feet, in a nice neighborhood. We paid $94,000 for it over 18 years ago and we have updated things as we had the money to do so.

I just wonder how some of these people have the money to buy a house for over $200K and then I guess I don't think everyone expects to pay it off. That was our goal from the minute we signed the loan for $50,000 on our house. We paid extra every month to get it paid off. And it is paid off. I remember when we were looking at houses, we went through a house that was pretty nice. I asked the realtor why they were selling and his comment was we would be able to figure it out once we got inside. The living room was sparsely furnished, but we thought they were minimalists. The bedroom was clean and neat and had what we would consider normal amount of stuff in it. Same with the kids' rooms. but the family room...two lawn chairs. That was it. He said they bought the house and found out they couldn't afford it.

A few years ago a friend was talking about buying a house and in our discussion she said she didn't have a big down payment. I commented that we had to have 20% down to buy our first house in 1990 and she said they didn't have to put much down at all. I opened my big mouth and said I think there should be a substantial percentage put down so people don't feel free to walk away since that is one of the big problems we had when the real estate market basically crashed....too many people with too much debt and lots of underwater houses.

DH and I are not risk takers. When we bought this, our second house, we had $44K in equity in our other house so we only had to borrow $50K. The loan officer suggested we buy a bigger, more expensive house and we said no, we didn't want to be "house poor" and not be able to make the payments or save up to fix things up. Our initial house payment was far less than most rent and the interest rate then was over 7 percent. We decided this was it. We weren't planning on moving again unless health dictated it. With that in mind, we updated and probably have over improved the house, but it is to our liking. And we don't owe a penny on the house or the updates.

One of our friends has a big house. They are constantly getting loans from the equity to do things. That scares me...I wouldn't want to put our house in jeopardy to do things like vacations or buy a car. And this person complains any time something has to be done...I just comment and say big house means big bills for heating, cooling, fixing, taxes, insurance, etc.

DH and I admire those big houses. But I'm awfully glad to have a smaller one that we don't owe anything on.

One Upmanship

August 27th, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Some folks just love to be in competition.

We recently went out to eat with this couple. I knew what was coming when he asked when our next trip was going to be. He didn't really want to know about us, he just wanted to open up the subject so he could brag about their next trip.

We aren't in competition. We do things because we want to do them and hopefully because they bring us pleasure. It isn't about bragging about them beforehand or afterwards. It is the experience we savor.

As you may know, we just returned from a lovely trip to Branson. We had a nice time. It was long enough to be refreshing, but short enough we were still home in a few days so the garden didn't suffer. We enjoyed the shows, meeting new people on the bus, and we felt it fit our budget.

We save for our trips so even if I put something on the credit card to pay for it, we have the money in our vacation account and we take it out and pay for the trip.

Not so with our friends. Between credit cards, personal loans, and home equity loans, they "finance" their trips. They have told us they are still paying for a major family vacation from three years ago. They will be leaving soon for another big ten day vacation and after that will be going on another vacation. I'm glad for them; they are better travelers than we and have been to more places, both in the U.S. and out of it. I'm not trying to be in competition with them.

We bought a new car last spring. It was a planned purchase. We put down a large downpayment and did finance a small amount because our credit scores have taken a hit since we had no outstanding debt. This person was almost grouchy when he learned about our new car. We didn't buy it to impress. In fact, it is just a newer model of the car we have that is now our second car. We bought it because we wanted it and we take pleasure in driving it.

I guess I'm not a very competitive person. I am not into bragging rights and such. I get it as far as contests and sports. But in real life. what a waste of time and energy. No one lives the same way.

Are we alone or are there people in your life who are always in the one upmandship mode?

Article on Finance -- Harder to become rich?

August 24th, 2017 at 01:05 pm

In our newspaper this week in the business section was an article stating that people are finding it harder to become rich.

One thing that bothers me about an article like this is they don't define what "rich" is. If it means being a multi-millionaire, or someone who had a decent savings and retirement.

I read it and grumbled to DH. Most of the people we know would agree with this article. The article basically said most folks don't have any savings, little retirement, and carry a large credit card debt. I wanted to say this is old news.

Anyway, I don't know what rich is. I'm sure to someone who is making minimum wage, I'm rich. We own our home, we have savings, we have retirement, and the only thing we have besides our monthly bills that we owe on is our newer vehicle which we financed so our credit scores would quit plummeting. We could pay it off right now.

One of the ladies I worked with commented that she couldn't afford to save. Yet, she was going out and partying, bought lots of new clothes and shoes, and when she decided to get married, had the big church wedding and fancy reception. The reception was a sit down meal at a pretty nice place. She had, in fact, invited more people than she had places to seat them. She was complaining to me that one paycheck a month was going to student loan debt. She wanted to know when I paid mine off. I told her I didn't have them because between scholarships and working before college and all during college and doing without a lot of things, I graduated debt free. My parents didn't have the money to send me to college. So, I did the best I could. She admitted she used her student loans for stuff over and above her degree.

Barely a year later she is already filing for divorce. She had been living in a condo her parents owned before she married because she couldn't afford rent. She married a guy and they immediately bought a big house. I imagine things will get hairy as they work out the divorce settlement.

So, on the surface she probably looks OK, with a newer car, nice clothes, and having fun. But I bet she doesn't have squat as far as savings. So, is it harder to become rich? For her, she would say yes, but I think for a lot of people like her, it is her own fault. It is different if someone is underemployed and can't find something else or has a horrible accident or illness. I'm talking generally that so many people don't want to do without and must have instant gratification and get stuff without saving up. As for retirement and regular savings, well they claim they can't afford it, even some who would have matching funds for 401K.

So, what do you say, is it harder to become rich?